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Return Of The Captain: Varitek's Big Game Backs Strong Beckett

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Wait, we're allowed to win in Cleveland? I wasn't aware.

It took them five tries, but sure enough, Boston managed to take one from the Indians. And all it took was for someone to go back in time and bring back the Jason Varitek of about 5 years ago. That, and to make sure the Josh Beckett from 2007 didn't take the opportunity to get back home.

At first, this looked like the same-old, same-old for Beckett in Ohio. Having thrown a ton of pitches and allowed a run in the first two innings, a repeat of his three earned run, five inning performance against the Indians from back in April seemed entirely possible. What actually happened was something entirely different. Taking advantage of some bad baserunning by the Indians and Jason Varitek suddenly finding an arm strong enough to gun down two would-be base stealers, Beckett managed to work his pitch count down and enter the seventh inning with only one run on the board.

Of course, even if Beckett had allowed three runs, that might not have been an issue. The Red Sox were not exactly forming a conga line around the bases, but they did well enough against Fausto Carmona to make sure Beckett had room to work. With runners on the corners and one out in the third thanks to Carmona hitting Crawford and walking Ellsbury, Jed Lowrie have the ball a ride to score Crawford from third with a sacrifice fly that nearly left the park, and Adrian Gonzalez brought Ellsbury home just a few pitches later on a line drive double to right field.

The real big swing of the game came in the seventh inning, however, and once again it was Jason Varitek doing the dirty work, launching a rocket over the wall in right field to give the Sox a 4-1 lead.

Of course, even a three run lead can't look all that great to a Red Sox team that has seen more than a few late leads evaporate in recent weeks. And when Beckett allowed a walk and a single with two outs in the seventh, it was enough to put the team on edge. But out came Rich Hill to do what he has done everytime he has come to the mound so far this year: shut down the opposition. Throwing six straight curveballs to Jack Hannahan, Hill managed to end the threat in style, buckling his knees with the last one on a called third strike that just barely caught the corner.

After Hill threw a scoreless eighth, Jonathan Papelbon would allow his first homer of the year to Travis Buck, but held the lead at 4-2 to give the Sox their first win of the year in Cleveland.