CLEVELAND (AP) — Brent Lillibridge enjoyed his brief stay in Boston, and then had more fun helping the Cleveland Indians beat his former Red Sox teammates.
Lillibridge homered, drove in two runs and scored on a squeeze bunt to back Zack McAllister’s strong pitching in the Indians’ 5-2 victory on Saturday night.
Lillibridge also threw out a runner at the plate, made an acrobatic tag at third base, and was cheered by a crowd that probably was scratching its head at why someone with a .181 batting average was in the lineup.
“It’s been a rough year, so it felt really good to contribute,” said Lillibridge, who was traded from Chicago to Boston to Cleveland in less than month.
“He was huge,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “He’s very versatile and did a lot tonight.”
Acta was more delighted with the rookie McAllister (5-4), who working a career-high eight innings.
“Zach was THE man out there,” Acta said. “Right-hand batters were 0 for 14 against him. He had 19 of 27 first-pitch strikes and gave a rest to our bullpen. He was just fantastic.”
McAllister allowed three hits, including a two-run double by Adrian Gonzalez. He struck out four without issuing a walk.
“The kid was throwing the ball where he wanted to throw it,” Boston manager Bobby Valentine said. “That low and away pitch was really effective.”
Chris Perez pitched the ninth to earn his 31st save in 35 chances for Cleveland, 3-1 since an 11-game losing streak.
Boston has lost eight of 11.
Lillibridge, acquired July 24 from Boston for minor league pitcher Jose De La Torre, tied a career high with three hits. He hit his first homer in nearly a year and had an RBI single off Franklin Morales (3-2). He raised his average 21 points to .202 and doubled his season RBI output to four.
Lillibridge made it 1-0 in the third with his first homer since Aug. 31, 2011, when he was with the White Sox. After hitting 13 homers for Chicago last year, he was sent to Boston on June 24 in the deal for Kevin Youkilis.
He joked with shortstop Mike Aviles during the game.
“I told Mike I didn’t expected to beat up on the Red Sox,” Lillibridge said. “They are a good group of guys.”
Lillibridge also was involved in three odd plays in the field as Boston went ahead 2-1 in the fourth.
After Jacoby Ellsbury doubled, McAllister fielded Carl Crawford’s bunt and turned to third, where Lillibridge was off the bag. Ellsbury advanced, and Crawford was safe, too, on McAllister’s late throw to first.
Next, Dustin Pedroia hit a roller to Lillibridge, who had Ellsbury caught between third and home, but couldn’t make a play anywhere, loading the bases.
Gonzalez followed with a drive high off the wall in left, scoring two runs. Pedroia also tried to score and was thrown out on a strong relay throw by Lillibridge.
“We gave them five outs that inning,” Acta said. “But Zach didn’t get rattled, and we came back and won. Everything was possible because of Zach’s effort.”
Cleveland tied it at 2 in the fifth. Brantley walked, moved up on a balk, took third on a groundout, and scored on Lillibridge’s line single to left.
“I ended up just trying to drive in more runs than I let in,” said Lillibridge, who added another defensive gem.
In the sixth, Ellsbury was out trying to stretch a leadoff double. Lillibridge took the throw from center fielder Brantley and made a sprawling tag on the infield side of the bag.
In the bottom half, after a walk and hit batter, Cleveland executed a double steal. Morales intentionally walked Carlos Santana and was replaced by Andrew Miller. Brantley’s sacrifice fly made it 3-2.
Morales, a converted reliever making his seventh start, gave up only the two hits to Lillibridge in 5 2-3 innings, but allowed three runs.
Lillibridge opened the seventh with a hustle double. He took third on a groundout, and scored on Lou Marson’s bunt to make it 4-2.
Ezequiel Carrera had an RBI single in the eighth for Cleveland.
NOTES: The start was delayed 18 minutes because Indians Hall of Fame ceremonies ran long. Right-hander Gaylord Perry, late outfielder Jack Graney, and trainer Jim Warfield were all inducted. … Indians RHP Roberto Hernandez will start Wednesday in Los Angeles, his first game since being arrested in the Dominican Republic in January. It was discovered he was 31, three years older than listed, and using the identity of a distant cousin, Fausto Carmona. … Boston called up 3B Danny Valencia from Triple-A Pawtucket to replace Will Middlebrooks, who was placed on the disabled list with a broken right wrist. Boston has had 25 players on the DL this year.