Indians look to extend Red Sox skid to season-long 4

BOSTON — Having flexed their muscles with wins in the first two games of the series, the Cleveland Indians send 15-game winner Carlos Carrasco to the mound against the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday night at Fenway Park.

The Indians, who hit three home runs in coming back from a 3-0 deficit to win Monday night, hit two more Tuesday in the second game between the two division leaders, a 6-3 victory.

Carrasco, 15-6 with a 3.33 ERA, faces left-hander Brian Johnson, who will try to help the Red Sox, losers of three games in three days, avoid what would be their first four-game losing streak of the season.

For the second straight night, Greg Allen and Melky Cabrera tormented the Red Sox. Allen went 2-for-3 to extend his hitting streak to 14 games and also drove in a run and made two outstanding catches and Cabrera had three hits, including a homer for the second straight game in the series — the third in a row overall.

Two teams with substantial leads in their divisions — a hyped series that could be a playoff preview.

“We just wanted to win tonight. That’s all,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “I don’t care about that stuff.

“They’re a really good team and we played a good game. But now we’ve got to play a better game tomorrow.”

The Red Sox, who still lead the Yankees by eight games atop the American League East, have seen the lead chopped by 2 1/2 games in the last three days. They lost three in a row way back in April but have not lost four in a row all season.

“We’re not swinging the bat well right now since (Tyler) Glasnow on Saturday, then the bullpen game on Sunday,” said Boston manager Alex Cora. “These guys. It seemed like yesterday we were waking up early but then they did a good job and today we were unable to get something going until that inning.

“So, we’ll come back tomorrow and look for pitches in the middle of the zone and try to hit it in the air and hopefully they go out of the ballpark.”

Speaking about the Indians, Cora said, “It’s a tough lineup because they don’t strike out. They will put the ball in play; they found ways. So we got to be able to expand somewhere, probably up in the zone, and obviously down with the breaking ball late in counts. But I think it was more about them than actually Nate (Eovaldi, the starter and loser).”

Carrasco, who has forced his way into the Cy Young talk, has gone 7-1 in July and August and has thrown back-to-back seven-inning shutout efforts his last two times out. He is 1-2 with a 6.83 ERA in seven games — five starts — lifetime against the Red Sox, 0-1 in four games — three starts — at Fenway.

Johnson is 4-3 with a 4.00 ERA overall but is 3-0 as a starter in August, with the offense helping him out. He has yielded 17 hits and 12 earned runs in 17 2/3 innings in those starts but does have 19 strikeouts over that span.

Brock Holt is 4-for-5 (.800), Xander Bogaerts 3-for-7 (.429), J.D. Martinez 9-for-25 (.360) with two home runs and Mitch Moreland 5-for-14 (.357) with three homers against Carrasco. But Mookie Betts is 1-for-8 (.125) and Ian Kinsler 11-for-50 (.220) against the right-hander.

Johnson has never faced the Indians.