CLEVELAND -- Just when it seemed like the Red Sox had run out of ways to lose games in the first week, they found some more Wednesday night.
After falling victim to poor starting pitching and an anemic offense in the first four contests, the Red Sox combined poor relief work and a mental lapse to lose 8-4 to the Cleveland Indians, dropping them to 0-5. With a loss in the road trip finale Thursday afternoon, they can return for their home opener with their worst start to a season since 1945.
The Sox trailed 3-2 in the sixth when it all fell apart for them. Dennys Reyes faced three hitters and put all three on base -- two by hit batsman and another by walk. With the bases loaded, Kevin Youkilis couldn't glove a liner by Michael Brantley. Youkilis stepped on third for one force out, but when he threw to the plate, catcher Jason Varitek failed to tag Travis Buck, instead stepping on the plate.
Asdrubal Cabrera then drove a three-run homer into the seats in right off Dan Wheeler, capping a four-run inning.
The Sox stitched together two runs in the second on an infield chopper by Marco Scutaro and an RBI groundout by Jacoby Ellsbury. Adrian Gonzalez added a two-run homer, his first homer as a member of the Red Sox, in the seventh.
Starter Daisuke Matsuzaka allowed three runs in five innings, needing 96 pitches to record 15 outs. The Sox have yet to get a quality start after one full turn through their rotation.
STAR OF THE GAME: Asdrubal Cabrera
The Cleveland second baseman delivered the crushing blow, a three-run homer off Dan Wheeler in the four-run sixth that put the game effectively out of reach.
Both Wheeler and Jason Varitek maintained that Wheeler's pitch -- a two-seamer down and in -- was where the Sox wanted it to be and credited Cabrera with a good at-bat.
Cabrera also chipped in with a run-scoring single in the second to account for the third Cleveland run of the night.
HONORABLE MENTION: Shin-Soo Choo
Choo, the Indians' best player, snapped an 0-for-13 hitless streak with a two-run homer in the first off Daisuke Matsuzaka. It was Choo's first homer of the season and gave the Indians their first lead of the night.
GOAT: Dennys Reyes
There were plenty of culprits contributing to the Red Sox' fifth straight setback, but Reyes was perhaps the most obvious.
Brought in to pitch the bottom of the sixth with the Sox trailing 3-2, the plan was for Reyes to face "six or seven'' guys and get the Sox through the seventh inning.
Instead, Reyes couldn't find the strike zone with a GPS. He threw 12 pitches, 11 of them for balls and failed to get out a single hitter. He hit the first two Indians he faced, leaving the bases loaded for Wheeler.
With the bases loaded and no out in the sixth, Michael Brantley lined to Kevin Youkilis at third. Youkilis, torn between trying to catch the ball and letting it drop so as to start a double play, reached for the liner, only to have it drop out of his glove.
He stepped on third to force out Matt LaPorta, but that took the force out at home. Youkilis threw to the plate where Jason Varitek needed to tag oncmoing runner Travis Buck. But because Varitek didn't see Youkilis step on the bag, he simply stood at home as he received the throw, not realizing he needed to tag Buck.
With Buck safe, the inning unraveled further when Cabrera launched his three-run shot to right.
BY THE NUMBERS
The Red Sox were a woeful 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, stranding seven -- including runners at third base three times in the span of four innings.
QUOTE OF NOTE
"This game will humble you in a hurry and it's doing that to us right now...Sometimes winning's not easy. Sometimes you're on a roll and everything's going your way. But when it's not, we've got to find a way to win a game.'' -- Terry Francona