Game Story: Red Sox roll over Indians, 14-2

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Game Story: Red Sox roll over Indians, 14-2

CLEVELAND The Red Sox showed no mercy Wednesday on Indians right-hander Mitch Talbot, making his first start since coming off the disabled list, as they pounded him for seven runs in the first inning en route to a 14-2 romp over the Indians.

The Sox sent 12 batters to the plate in the first and setseason highs for both runs and hits in an inning. They tied their season high with four consecutive hits as Jacoby Ellsbury opened the game with a single to center, followed by Dustin Pedroias third home run of the season, Adrian Gonzalezs single, and David Ortizs single.

The Sox scored seven runs in an inning four times in 2010, but the last time they did so in the first inning was with 10 runs on Aug. 12, 2008, against the Rangers. The last time they had at least nine hits in the first inning was on June 27, 2003, against the Marlins.

Staked to such a robust lead, Jon Lester cruised through his outing, going six scoreless innings, giving up three hits two singles in the first, and a double to Asdrubal Cabrera in the sixth and one walk with seven strikeouts over 97 pitches. He improved to 7-1, with a 3.36 ERA. He has not lost since his third outing of the season, April 12 against the Rays.

McAdam: Red Sox at a loss after excruciating defeat

McAdam: Red Sox at a loss after excruciating defeat

There are still two full months of games left on the schedule and who knows what might happen in that time, or what else might befall the Red Sox.

But for now, it's no stretch to suggest that Thursday's excruciating 2-1 setback in Anaheim constitutes the worst loss of the season to date. The point hardly seems debatable.

Consider:

THE TIMING: This was the start of the longest, and in many ways, most challenging road trip of the season, with 11 games in 11 days. It comes immediately after a homestand that was highly disappointing, featuring a mere split with the last-place Minnesota Twins and a sweep at the hands of the otherwise mediocre Detroit Tigers.

There's been a great deal of attention focused on how many road games the Sox have to play through the rest of the season. Winning the opener -- and snapping a three-game losing streak in the process - would have felt like a strong statement that the club was ready and able to meet the challenges of the schedule.

THE STARTING PITCHER: The loss wiped out a standout performance by David Price, who may well hold the key to whether the Red Sox grab a playoff spot this fall.

Price has been woefully inconsistent in his first season with the Red Sox, alternating between brief stretches of dominance and periods of underwhelming outings.

For a change Thursday night, Price seemed on the verge of winning one of those "statement'' games, when he would make one measly run in the third inning stand up. There have been too many times, given his standing as the team's No. 1 starter, in which Price has pitched just well enough to lose -- like the pitcher's duels in which he came up short against the likes of Madison Bumgarner and Chris Tillman.

But on Thursday, Price didn't buckle. And never mind that he was matched against an aging and depleted Jered Weaver. Price had next-to-nothing with which to work, but he protected the 1-0 lead with a determination he has seldon shown in Boston.

And for his effort to go wasted sets an inauspicious marker for this demanding trip. There was something symbolic about having Price set the tone at the start with a low-scoring, must-have game.

He did his part. Unfortunately for Price, that wasn't enough.

THE WAY IN WHICH IT HAPPENED: Walk-off losses are never pleasant, whether they come on a homer, or a base hit up the middle.

But considering that the Red Sox had the ability to turn Daniel Nava's tapper to first into a game-ending double play, and instead, saw it result in a two-run throwing error on the part of Hanley Ramirez, makes it all the more crushing.

Brad Ziegler, who gave up a go-ahead game-winning homer in the final game of the homestand Wednesday, essentially did his job in the ninth. He got Mike Trout to hit a chopper, which resulted in an infield single. And he kept the ball on the ground and in the infield, with the Sox bringing the infield in with the bases loaded and one out.

Better execution, and the Red Sox walk away with a thrilling 1-0 victory to begin their West Coast trek. Instead, they walk off the field, heads down, with the wrong precedent being set.