After seven innings yesterday, Tim Wakefield turned over a 5-2 lead to the Red Sox' bullpen.
Cue the nail biting.
After Tuesday night's late-game pitching debacle -- Mike Timlin and Keith Foulke gave up seven runs in the final two innings of a 12-8 loss -- the relievers needed a good showing.
And finally, that's what Matt Mantei and Timlin gave the 35,069 gathered in the sticky summer air at the Fens as the Sox beat the Indians, 5-2, to prevent a sweep.
That's not to say things came easy for Mantei (who pitched the eighth inning) and Timlin (who closed in the ninth).
Mantei started off by throwing six consecutive balls. He said he was trying some new mechanics, which lowered his leg kick and took some movement out of his delivery.
''[My pitching] stunk at first," he said. ''[The new style] is just not me. I feel more comfortable when I stay back a little longer. I just was a little bit out of whack, but it worked out."
After the sixth ball, pitching coach Dave Wallace visited Mantei on the mound. Mantei told him he was done with the new style, and retired the next three batters.
Manager Terry Francona said having Mantei last the whole inning took considerable pressure off the bullpen. Going through relievers, Francona said, was the one thing he didn't want to happen yesterday, especially since Foulke had the day off.
''We didn't have the freshest arms out there, and we wanted to get to Timlin," he said. ''But if we get to him too early then we have to keep moving, and then all we have left are lefthanders."
Timlin started strong in the ninth, striking out Aaron Boone and getting Alex Cora to ground out to second. But then he started to struggle as well. Jhonny Peralta doubled and advanced to third on a Coco Crisp single.
''At that point, I gave up the [first] hit, I'm thinking, 'Well, that's as far as he's going to go. If he gets on second, he's going to have to stay there.' Then I gave up the other hit, I expected him to score right there, but he didn't," Timlin said. ''You just try to limit your damage. You get the save, you get the win, whatever. You just try to limit all the damage."
With the tying run at bat, Timlin secured the save when Casey Blake flied to Johnny Damon in center. It was Timlin's 118th save and his first since April 24, 2004, against New York. It was also the first save by a Sox pitcher other than Foulke since Oct. 2, 2004.
Mantei's outing dropped his ERA from 5.04 to 4.85, and Timlin went from 1.64 to 1.60. Mantei said he believes the bullpen has a lot of ability, but needs time to click. He said he'd like to pitch more.
''I told them in spring training that I didn't want to be babied," said Mantei, who missed most of last season after undergoing shoulder surgery. ''I've been in a lot of ballgames. I just haven't thrown a lot of innings.
''The last three, four weeks I've really struggled finding the strike zone. It's starting to make me upset. I need to figure something out. I'm getting closer. The last couple outings have been a lot better. I've still been walking a couple guys, but as far as getting some outs in good situations, I feel a lot better."