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The Red Sox lost the game twice in Cleveland on Thursday night. After hitting through the order and going up 4-0 in the first inning, it looked like the Red Sox were going to cruise through an easy win over a lowly Indians team. Jon Lester made it look like more of a sure thing with two strikeouts in a 1-2-3 first inning, setting up the Sox to go up 5-0 in the second.
Then it fell apart for the first time.
Jon Lester, carrying over his recent dominant streak into the first two innings of the game, gave up an uncharacteristic three runs in the third inning, and another three in the sixth to let the Indians go up 6-5. The Red Sox bats, which only seemed hot seeing as three of their first four runs were unearned as a result of four Cleveland errors, went missing after the first two innings.
And then Adrian Beltre made us think he was a hero.
With two outs in the top of the ninth, an errant pitch gave the Red Sox the slightest bit of hope when it struck JD Drew and extended the game to at least one more batter. Then Adrian Beltre stepped up and made his eighth home run of the season a big one, towering over centerfielder Trevor Crowe to put the Red Sox ahead 7-6 in the top of the ninth.
So, with momentum on their side and only three outs needed against the 25th ranked team batting average in baseball, it looked like a game to talk about.
And then Daniel Bard made it one to forget.
With Jonathan Papelbon on the bereavement list to attend to a family illness, and after Manny Delcarmen and Ramon Ramirez had already stepped in to slow down what Jon Lester had allowed, Bard was the only option left. After Bard loaded the bases with no outs on two walks and a double, he got two quick outs and made it interesting for Boston again.
But, sticking to the theme of the game, Bard gave up a walk-off two-run single to pinch hitter Russell Branyon, and officially lost the game.
It wasn’t the desired end to a 10 game road trip. After winning two out of three in both the Oakland series and the Baltimore series, they showed up in Cleveland and took the first two. Thursday, they had the opportunity (twice) to win their third consecutive series and return to Boston with a 7-3 record on a tough, coast-to-coast road trip. Instead, Jon Lester pitched his worst game since early April, Kevin Youkilis left the game with back spasms, and the Red Sox leave Ohio after splitting a series with a 23-36 Cleveland Indians team in a sloppy, forgettable loss.