Red Sox clinch playoff spot, eliminate Yankees

By: AP
By: AP

BOSTON (AP) -- The World Series champion Boston Red Sox are back in the playoffs, thanks to a 5-4 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night that clinched at least a wild-card berth.

Tim Wakefield outpitched Cliff Lee (22-3), and midseason acquisition Jason Bay hit the go-ahead single as Boston scored three times in the fifth inning to rally from a two-run deficit.

The Red Sox lead the New York Yankees by six games in the wild-card race with five games left. Boston still has a chance to catch Tampa Bay in the AL East.

"It's different, but it doesn't get any less exciting or less satisfying," manager Terry Francona said. "We know we have more baseball to play."

Cleveland loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth before Jonathan Papelbon came on and, with his first pitch, got Jamey Carroll to ground out. Papelbon earned his 41st save by retiring the Indians in order in the ninth to finish it off, just as he did in Game 4 of the Series against Colorado last fall.

Papelbon got Victor Martinez to pop up to shortstop Alex Cora to end the game, and the Red Sox poured out of their dugout and bullpen, hugging and slapping hands in the infield. They then retreating to the plasticized clubhouse for the traditional spraying of champagne.

"A lot of guys went down and we found a way to get into the playoffs to defend our title," second baseman Dustin Pedroia said in an on-field interview that was broadcast on the scoreboard to chants of "M-V-P!" "We have a chance to do what we did last year, and that's all we were looking for - an opportunity."

Wakefield (10-11) allowed four runs on six hits and a walk in six innings, striking out six. It's his 10th season in Boston with 10 or more wins, tying Roger Clemens for the most in franchise history.

Lee, the favorite to win the AL Cy Young award, had won 11 straight decisions in 13 starts since picking up his second loss on July 6.

Once the much-maligned owners of an 86-year championship drought, the Red Sox have won two titles in the last four seasons and made the playoffs in five of the past six years. They have not won back-to-back World Series since 1915 and '16, but they'll have a chance to repeat when the playoffs start next week.

"We still have a chance to win the division and win it all," center fielder Coco Crisp said. "I think we have a better shot this year than we did last year."

The Indians lost to Boston in last year's playoffs after leading 3-1 in the best-of-seven AL championship series, but they stumbled into third place in the AL Central this season and have long-since been eliminated from playoff contention. They beat Boston on Monday night to keep the Red Sox from clinching, but they could delay the celebration no longer.

Injured third baseman Mike Lowell, last year's World Series MVP, joined his teammates on the field, spraying champagne into the crowd. Papelbon lifted the bases out of the infield and handed them into the stands. Jason Varitek made the rounds along the fence, shaking hands with fans recording the moment on their cellphones.

Back in the clubhouse, David Ortiz danced in the center, wearing goggles to protect his eyes from the bubbly, a veteran move that he's learned from nearly a dozen celebrations since joining the Red Sox.

"We're dangerous in the playoffs," he said. "Everybody knows that."

But for Bay, who was picked up when the Red Sox ditched 2004 Series MVP Manny Ramirez at the trading deadline, it's his first trip to the postseason.

"I feel like a kid, jumping around spraying champagne with all these guys," he said. "It's been a different journey for me."

Lee allowed five runs on nine hits and three walks in seven innings, striking out eight. It was his third consecutive start allowing four or more total runs.

Both Lee and Wakefield were working on shutouts until Ortiz doubled high off the center-field wall to lead off the fourth inning and Kevin Youkilis followed with a home run over the Green Monster. The Indians took a 4-2 lead in the top of the fifth when Grady Sizemore singled in a run, Carroll followed with an RBI groundout and Shin-Soo Choo and Jhonny Peralta hit back-to-back RBI doubles.

Cleveland's lead didn't last long.

The Red Sox took a 5-4 lead when Pedroia hit a two-run double and Bay singled.

Notes:@ Cleveland 3B Andy Marte left the game in the third inning with a left calf strain. ... Pedroia's 53rd double of the year tied Tris Speaker (1912) for third-most in Boston history. ... Lee's unbeaten streak is the longest since Chris Carpenter won 13 straight decisions for the Cardinals in 2005. It's the longest for an Indians pitcher since Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry won 15 straight in 1974.


631 SW Commerce Pl. Topeka, Kansas 66615 phone: 785-272-6397 fax: 785-272-1363 email: feedback@wibw.com
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 29685404 - wibw.com/a?a=29685404