Tribe tees off on Red Sox's Beckett

Tribe tees off on Red Sox's Beckett

Tribe tees off on Red Sox's Beckett
BOSTON -- The headlines and tweets and tabloids will all center around Red Sox starter Josh Beckett. The spotlight will be on his walk off the mound at Fenway Park Thursday night, and the chorus of boos he received in the wake of the latest controversy swirling in the Back Bay.

For the Indians, though, their 8-3 victory over Boston was not about Beckett. It was about a relentless offensive attack that chased the starter from the contest before the end of the third inning. It was about using the lumber to pile on a pitcher that already had plenty of drama stacked up all around him.

"We got to him today," said Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis.

Did they ever.

The American League Central-leading Indians (18-13) took their traveling road show into Boston and pounded Beckett to the tune of seven runs in 2 1/3 innings. That outpouring was more that ample in helping veteran sinkerballer Derek Lowe, who was making his second start as a visitor in his old home ballpark, collect his fifth win of the season for the Tribe.

Cleveland's feast-or-famine offense gorged itself on Beckett, reeling off seven hits -- including home runs from Kipnis and Jack Hannahan -- to run the club's Major League-best road record to 10-3. After Michael Brantley's two-run double pushed the Tribe to a 7-1 lead, Beckett was pulled from the contest.

That is when the Fenway faithful let him have it.

"That's Boston for you," Kipnis said. "It seems like the fans, they want winners. They didn't like his start tonight, so that's all that happened."

There was a little more to the story than that. The outing was Beckett's first for the struggling Red Sox (12-19) since April 29. On May 2, Boston scratched the right-hander from his scheduled Saturday start due to a minor lat injury. Reports swiftly swirled that the pitcher still took part in a round of golf on the team's off-day last Thursday.

It has been perhaps the most scrutinized 18-holes of golf in baseball off-day history.

There was little that could be said or done to hinder the fury of the Boston fan base.

The 38-year-old Lowe -- a member of the Red Sox for parts of the 1997-2004 seasons -- cracked a smile when asked about the crowd's reaction to Beckett's outing. The smirk stemmed from his own experiences as a closer for Boston. Lowe said that the boos Beckett received were nothing compared to what he dealt with years ago.

"I remember in '01, I was closing," Lowe said. "I blew a three-run game in like literally 30 seconds and it happened to be they gave out my posters that day. Well, they turned into airplanes really fast. There was a 10-minute delay. They stopped the game. The whole nine yards.

"I sat in the clubhouse until [2 a.m.] and I'd stick my head out to see if I could leave yet, and they would still be standing there saying, 'I see you in there!' Yeah, so no, I've seen worse. It's happened to me. When you play here, you understand that's part of it.

"If you go out there and probably don't pitch the way you would like, they're going to let you know about it."

These days, Lowe is in vintage form and leading the Indians' rotation.

Against the Red Sox, Lowe limited the damage of the nine hits and one walk he allowed, giving up just two runs over six solid innings of work. Mike Aviles chipped in an RBI single in the second inning and Daniel Nava added a run-scoring double in the fifth, but that did not stop Lowe from improving to 5-1 with a 2.47 ERA on the season.

Along the way, Lowe created 13 outs via ground balls.

"Lowe was Lowe," said Red Sox slugger Adrian Gonzalez. "Changeups, occasional slider. Kept the ball down and got ground balls."

Dustin Pedroia added a leadoff homer off Indians lefty Tony Sipp in the seventh inning, but the Tribe offense had done too much damage for the Red Sox to overcome. For Lowe, that offensive showing by his teammates outranked pitching in Fenway Park. After all, it has been eight years since he helped Boston end its 86-year World Series title drought.

"I had fun watching the offense," Lowe said. "It doesn't matter where you're pitching, you can't ask for any better start than getting seven runs in the first three innings. ... You don't have that emotion where maybe three years ago I had it, because there were still a lot of guys [I played with] there."

Hannahan highlighted a three-run burst in the second inning with a two-run home run off Beckett that sailed into the seats beyond the right-field wall. Kipnis kick-started a four-run push in the third with a leadoff homer -- the sixth blast of the year for the second baseman. Brantley finished 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles. Shin-Soo Choo, Casey Kotchman and Carlos Santana also knocked in runs.

The bulk of the damage put a lot of early pressure on Beckett.

"[That's] very important, because he's one of the best guys in the league," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "We've seen some games where we've been dominated by him. Today, the guys just came out swinging. We got into some good counts and hit some mistakes pretty good."

And that was what this win was all about for the Indians.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.