CLEVELAND — Josh Beckett did it to the Indians again.
The Boston right-hander, who outdueled former Cleveland ace CC Sabathia in what could have been an ALCS-clinching win for the Indians in Game 5 at Progressive Field in 2007, ruined another milestone for his American League rival Tuesday night.
With a dominant effort, Beckett helped the Red Sox to a 4-2 victory that prevented the Indians from completing a record-setting start at home. Cleveland equaled its best home start (19-4) with a win in the series opener Monday.
Boston won for the first time at Cleveland in six games dating to last season, joining the Rays and White Sox as the only teams to beat the Indians at home this year.
According to Tribe manager Manny Acta, Beckett, who allowed a run on five hits over 62⁄3 innings, didn’t do it all by himself. He had assistance from the Indians.
“We couldn’t get anything going offensively,” said Acta, whose team scored once in the second, then not again until a solo home run from Travis Buck off closer Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth. “We didn’t do a very good job with our 27 outs. You have to make sure every single one of those outs, that he has to earn them. I thought we gave some away on the basepaths.
“We’re a very good team, but not good enough to give outs away against a pitcher like that.”
The Indians had four runners (two caught stealing) thrown out on the bases, the most glaring mistake coming when Matt LaPorta forgot how many outs there were and was doubled up on a flyout in the fifth inning.
Still, Beckett, who didn’t have control of his breaking ball, was able to dance through the Indians lineup effectively with his cut fastball.
“I think he pitched really well,” said Cleveland second baseman Orlando Cabrera, a former teammate of Beckett’s in Boston. “Not having one of his best pitches working, he was still able to keep us off-balance with his cutter.”
It appeared there was some bad blood between Boston and Cabrera when he was hit on the top of the helmet by Beckett in the second inning, then had to dodge another inside offering from Beckett in the seventh and one in the ninth from Papelbon.
All three pitches were breaking balls, and Cabrera said there was nothing to it.
“They were breaking pitches,” he said. “Josh looked at me and said sorry on that first one.”
Acta didn’t think the Red Sox were throwing at their former teammate.
“Every single one of them was a breaking ball,” he said. “I can’t think they are trying to hit him.”
The Indians also got a good outing from starter Fausto Carmona, who allowed just two runs over the first six innings to keep his team within striking distance of Beckett and Boston.
“I thought Fausto gave us a tremendous effort,” Acta said. “He gave us a chance to win.”
Carmona nearly worked a complete game, allowing a leadoff single to Kevin Youkilis in the ninth and departing after surrendering four runs on five hits, while striking out seven.
He lost the game by allowing a two-run homer to Jason Varitek in the seventh. The veteran catcher entered the night with a .197 batting average and without a homer since May 30, 2010.
“I think I pitched good,” Carmona said. “I tried to keep the game close and tried to win. I threw strikes and got a lot of groundballs.”
The late-game magic the Indians have produced at home as of late did not surface against Papelbon, despite Buck’s solo shot.
“You always feel like we are going to string some hits together,” Cabrera said. “But they have a good closer and he was able to shut the door.”