Red Sox Top Tribe Behind Daisuke Matsuzaka

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Red Sox Top Tribe Behind Daisuke Matsuzaka Daisuke Matsuzaka was his usual self, pitching into and out of jams throughout his outing as the Red Sox beat the Cleveland Indians 6-2 at Fenway Park on Friday night.

The Red Sox jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning and never gave it up, scoring three in the bottom of the third and two more in the seventh.

Though they have nowhere to go in the standings, the Red Sox got an impressive performance from their bullpen. Billy Wagner struck out the only two batters he faced and combined with Ramon Ramirez, Daniel Bard and Takashi Saito to pitch three scoreless innings.

It wasn't all good news for the Sox though, as shortstop Alex Gonzalez was hit by a Kerry Wood fastball in the bottom of the eighth and left the game. With Nick Green and Jed Lowrie far from being perfectly healthy, the Red Sox are hoping Gonzalez's injury isn't too serious. Rocco Baldelli also left the game with what the team is calling a left hip flexor straing after reaching on an error in the fourth inning.

Red Sox 6, Indians 2
Fenway Park, Boston, Mass.
Oct. 2, 2009

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Headliner: It wasn't his best outing, but at the end of the night, Daisuke Matsuzaka got the job done.

After giving up a leadoff double to Michael Brantley, Matsuzaka retired the next 12 Indians in a row. He then shut down potential big innings for the Indians by getting Shin-Soo Choo and Kelly Shoppach to strike out to end the fifth and sixth innings, respectively.

The 104-pitch effort was enough to earn Matsuzaka his fourth win of the season and solidify his spot as the fourth starter for the Red Sox in the playoffs. He is 3-1 with a 2.22 ERA and 20 strikeouts in four starts since returning from the DL on Sept. 15, and with his strikeout in the fifth, he has not allowed a hit in the last 23 at-bats with the bases loaded.

Dirt Dog: Jacoby Ellsbury got the game started the right way for the Red Sox as he once again perfected the "Ellsbury home run."

The speedster blooped a single into right field to lead off the first, but hustled into second to take an extra base. He then wasted no time, stealing third on the next pitch. Kelly Shoppach's throw to third base sailed into left field, and Ellsbury jogged home with the game's first run.

Better Luck Next Time: Indians first baseman Matt LaPorta was handed a gift from the baseball gods in the top of the eighth when his sky-high popup was dropped by Kevin Youkilis with one out. LaPorta, however, was caught in between first and second base, and an alert Alex Gonzalez retrieved the ball and gunned him down at second.

Without fail, the following batter, Luis Valbuena, tripled to right field, costing the Indians a run. LaPorta's run may not have made a difference in the end, but in the game of baseball, you never want to leave any run on the field.

Key Moment: Though the Red Sox had control of this one from the very beginning, the game was too close for comfort. The top of the Red Sox' batting order changed that in the seventh. Ellsbury's speed was unquestionably a factor in LaPorta's error that allowed the center fielder to reach. Dustin Pedroia then drew a walk with a full count before Youkilis plated both teammates with a deep double off the center-field wall. The two runs gave the Sox a healthy four-run cushion, taking some of the stress away from the bullpen.

On Deck: The Sox and Indians are scheduled for the third game of the series on Saturday night, but the forecast does not look good. If the weather somehow holds off, Josh Beckett (16-6, 3.78 ERA) is scheduled to make his final appearance before the postseason begins, opposed by Aaron Laffey (7-8, 3.91).

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