CLEVELAND Apparently the lesson learned by the Sox is to never spurn any gritty, little guys in Major League Baseball.
The Sox traded away utility guy Brent Lillibridge to the Cleveland Indians for a minor league pitcher after only 10 games of service this season, and revenge was his on Saturday night. Lillibridge rapped out a career-high three hits and knocked in a pair of important runs in the Tribes 5-2 win over the Sox at Progressive Field.
The loss once again pushed the Sox to three games under .500 in their one step forward, one step back version of baseball insanity.
Once again the Indians jumped on the board first when Lillibridge who was the player acquired from Chicago in the Kevin Youkilis trade powered up and slammed a Franklin Morales pitch over the left field wall.
The Sox fought back for a pair in the next half-inning courtesy of Lillibridge this time on defense. Jacoby Ellsbury laced a double to the opposite field in left-center to lead things off, and two straight misplays by Lillibridge manning third base on a bunt and a ground ball loaded the bases with nobody out.
Adrian Gonzalez blasted a double deep to center field and both Ellsbury and Crawford scored before Pedroia was gunned down trying to score all the way from first just steps behind Crawford.
The Tribe scratched back to tie the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the fifth when Lillibridge again stepped up to knock home Michael Brantley with an RBI single. It only remained tied until the bottom of the next inning when Morales lost command with a pair of walks one intentional and one no-so voluntary and a hit batsman that loaded the bases.
Bobby Valentine lifted Morales from the game, and reliever Andrew Miller allowed a sacrifice fly to Brantley that pushed across the game-winning run from third base. Meanwhile in the top of that same frame Ellsbury had again hammered a double to the opposite field, but was gunned down by Brantley attempting to stretch it into a leadoff triple. A nice stretching play by Lillibridge at third base was the difference on the play as Ellsbury attempted to hook slide around the throw.
Cleveland start Zach McAllister proved to be too much for the Sox once given that sixth inning lead, and limited their offense to only three hits. The big right was, of course, aided by both Pedroia and Ellsbury running into outs at home plate and third base respectively. He didnt walk a batter and fanned four in a career-high eight innings of work. Morales, meanwhile, didnt make it out of the sixth frame and dropped to 3-3 on the season.
The beardless Chris Perez locked it down for his 31st save of the season in the ninth inning.