Sox have a blast
Van Every beats Indians with HR
CLEVELAND - Jonathan Van Every's former roommate in the Indians organization stood on the mound with two outs in the 10th inning. The score was tied, as it had been in every game of this series upon reaching the ninth inning, with Van Every the last chance before yet another Red Sox reliever had to take his turn in the bottom of the inning.
But the goal went from holding the tie to protecting the lead in one swing of the bat, as Van Every blasted a changeup from Jensen Lewis 420 feet over the wall in center field. For a player whose bio lists seven minor league clubs in multiple organizations in an eight-year career - and who was a substitute for the player the Sox wanted to have in right field last night, J.D. Drew - his first home run in the majors was nothing short of perfect, especially in its timing.
"It would be hard to script it any better," Van Every said after powering the Sox to a 6-5 win last night.
"He was smiling ear to ear," manager Terry Francona said. "That was a good win. I think that's probably understating it a little bit."
Van Every had singled in the first run of the eighth, touching off the rally that brought the teams to extra innings. He also had broken up a double play and made a diving catch in foul territory in the bottom of the eighth. It seemed more than enough for a day of work.
Before a crowd of just 19,137, the Sox had trailed, 5-0, entering the sixth - and outscored the Indians, 6-0, the rest of the way.
"I hit it good," said Van Every in his Brandon, Miss., drawl. "Whether it did or not [carry], that's all I got. All I could do was put a good swing on it and let the ball go. It found a way to get out.
"I knew I had caught it good. I was just hoping, 'Please go out, please go out. Please don't let Grady [Sizemore] get to that thing.' "
But to even get to that point took some work - work done by the bottom of the order.
There were two strikes on Jacoby Ellsbury as he stood at the plate in the eighth inning. Jeff Bailey was at third, pinch runner Julio Lugo at first, and the Sox were down, 5-4. Ellsbury hit the next pitch past second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera. Bailey crossed the plate, the score unexpectedly tied after the Sox had been stymied by Fausto Carmona.
The Sox scored three times in the eighth. Despite a weakened bottom of the order with the absences of Drew and Kevin Youkilis, the Sox staged a rally. Mike Lowell singled, followed by another single by Jason Varitek, and an error by Indians third baseman Mark DeRosa on a grounder by Bailey. The bases were loaded for the lefthanded-hitting Van Every.
And Van Every came through, singling to right field to drive in a run. The next came home on a fielder's choice by pinch hitter Drew as Van Every slid into shortstop Jhonny Peralta to break up the double play. Varitek scored, and it was 5-4.
Though the Indians loaded the bases in the eighth against Manny Delcarmen on two walks and a hit batsman with two outs, they failed to score. That brought the teams to the ninth. It took some work by Hideki Okajima to get them to the 10th. The lefthander walked two batters in the ninth, but struck out the struggling Peralta looking to end the threat. Okajima said, through interpreter Jeff Yamaguchi, that all that went through his head was, "Keep the ball down and low. Avoid the strike zone. I just didn't want to throw the cookie over the plate."
Before the eighth, the Sox hadn't had many chances, though a notable one came when David Ortiz struck out swinging against Rafael Perez to end the seventh with two men on. Carmona, who entered the game with an 8.10 lifetime ERA against the Sox, had struck out Ellsbury to get out of the second after loading the bases, then proceeded to retire 12 straight batters.
That streak ended when Jason Bay, batting No. 4 in place of Youkilis, walked. It was the 23d walk of the season for Bay, who entered the night leading the majors in bases on balls. He came home when Lowell extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a double to left for the Sox' first run. Varitek brought home Lowell with a double, though Bailey ended the inning with a ground out.
After Jon Lester started the game the same way Tuesday night's had ended - with an error by the pitcher - he allowed five runs over three-plus innings before settling down and retiring nine straight.
"I think the biggest key early on was I wasn't getting ahead," said Lester, who allowed home runs to DeRosa and Kelly Shoppach. "I don't know what to attribute that to. I just wasn't as sharp early on as I could have been. Made some good pitches, and also made some not-so-good pitches."
Those not-so-good pitches got hit. Just like that changeup from an old roommate.
Nearly 45 minutes after his homer, Van Every hobbled around the clubhouse, one leg bound in ice. He was trying to find a trainer. He might have needed help with that ice pack. Or maybe he was in need of aspirin.
Because, as he said, "They just beat me on the head [after the homer]. I got a headache from getting hit. I kept my helmet on, thank goodness."
But it was a headache he surely would take. As he said, "It's got to be one of the top [moments], probably the top so far in my career. It was definitely a special day."
Amalie Benjamin can be reached at email@example.com.