BOSTON -- The win-loss record isn't as pretty as Clay Buchholz's and Jon Lester's, and John Lackey has made three fewer starts than the twin Red Sox aces. But if he keeps up his current run, which included seven dominant frames in an 8-1 win over the Cleveland Indians on Friday, Lackey may provide a bit more company atop the rotation.
While Lackey lowered his ERA to 2.72, Mike Carp ripped a three-run blast and Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia both had two-run singles to power the offense as the Sox picked up a timely win. They had dropped six of their past seven at home, including two straight by a combined score of 24-7, and began a cold, rainy night by placing regulars Shane Victorino and Will Middlebrooks on the disabled list. It may not have been the sexiest of their 29 victories, but given all that was surrounding the club before first pitch, it may have more sustained impact than others.
Here's some of what we saw along the way:
A streak ender: Indians starter Justin Masterson had a scoreless streak of 20 innings going until Carp's bomb in the second, which also snapped Carp's 0-for-21 streak and stood up as the decisive blow.
Carp's previous hit came on May 2. He had 10 strikeouts and just one walk during the 0-for-21 slide. If the Sox continue to start him in left field and Daniel Nava in right while Victorino is sidelined and a right-hander is on the mound, they'll want a little more of what they saw Friday as opposed to what they had seen the previous three weeks.
Back in the bigs: Jose Iglesias got his first career big league start at third base. He fielded his first chance as a third baseman on the first ball hit into play, which saw Iglesias range well to his left and cut off shortstop Stephen Drew. Iglesias was actually close to second base by the time he made the throw on the run.
That was the only chance Iglesias had until the final out of the game and he spent good portions of the contest on the right side of the infield in a variety of defensive shifts. For all the discussion of how he would handle the hot corner, Iglesias saw almost no action there.
Iglesias looked extremely overmatched in his first two at-bats, striking out twice on a total of eight pitches against Masterson. He singled against reliever Rich Hill in the seventh to load the bases ahead of Ellsbury's two-run single.
Hello, old friend: One problem with having Terry Francona in the other dugout is that you're facing a guy who knows how to exploit your weaknesses. A major one for Boston is the ability, or lack thereof, of catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia to limit the running game.
Francona used to always say that Saltalamacchia looked so good when he put everything together and nailed a would-be base stealer. And he's right. It just doesn't happen all that often, and Saltalamacchia's attempt to nab Mark Reynolds stealing third in the third looked so, so bad.
The throw sailed several feet wide and high, so much so that Iglesias watched it go by like an outfielder who knows a fly ball is long gone, barely even flinching. After hesitation, Reynolds came home to score Cleveland's only run and Saltalamacchia had his fourth error of the season. There was another steal of second base on that same play and a third swipe later in the inning, which dropped Saltalamacchia's caught stealing percentage to 12 percent, well below the league norm of 25 percent.
Interestingly enough, Saltalamacchia threw out 31 percent of runners in 2011, his one full season playing for Francona.
Aces not wild: Nearly a month to the day after he gave up eight runs on seven hits and four walks in 3 1/3 innings during which he sometimes seemed not to care, Alfredo Aceves was back on the mound at Fenway Park, this time in mop-up duty. Aceves worked around a leadoff hit to finish things off. With the Sox carrying 13 pitchers, his time in the majors may be short.
Not quite like old times: Francona made two pitching changes during Boston's two-run seventh, calling on former Red Sox relievers Hill and then Matt Albers. It still seems odd to see Francona emerge from the visitors' dugout to make such moves. The fans, at least the few who chose to sit through a constant mist, certainly took note by giving Francona a hearty applause each time he returned to the dugout.
Rain, rain go away: There was a 42-minute rain delay before first pitch of this one, a pretty short wait considering it was coming down in droves less than an hour before the scheduled start. Those of you coming to Saturday's game should expect more wet stuff, and may want to make alternate plans in the event the game is called. Maybe there will be a hockey game on or something.