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CLE@BOS: Saltalamacchia drives in five runs in win

BOSTON -- Forget how well Will Middlebrooks and Daniel Nava were doing at Triple-A. Two weeks before the Red Sox's 12-1 win over Cleveland on Mother's Day Sunday, the two of them hitting fifth and sixth for the big club this soon -- never mind their production -- would've been laughable.

Things happen, and the duo finished with a combined five RBIs -- matching catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia's output on the afternoon -- as the Red Sox took three games of four from Cleveland at Fenway Park. That's after Boston lost its previous three series to teams, like the Indians, whom they're expected to take care of.

"That's the reason they brought us up, because they thought we could," said Middlebrooks, who hit his fourth big league homer, a solo shot in the third that bounded back onto the field after landing in the Green Monster seats and put Boston up 5-1. "So it's good to let them know they were right."

Like their overall record, 15-19, Boston's home mark, at 7-11, is starting to creep up on respectability again.

"It's very encouraging, especially at home because there were some questions after Game 1 [of this series] that we'd never play well at home again," manager Bobby Valentine said. "There was a mental state that we couldn't break through and la-dee-da-dee-da-deedy-da. I mean, when you see the guys in the clubhouse, there's a good thing forming, and that's good. And I think we had a good thing for most of the year, it was just frustrating, because we'd get so close and it would slip away, and now we're banging the door down."

While Red Sox starter Daniel Bard's third win on six innings and one run sound a lot better than they were, the day Saltalamacchia had is one of his best. The catcher's five RBIs included two on his fifth homer of the season in the seventh inning.

That shot to center came off a former teammate, Dan Wheeler, who was tagged for six runs in the seventh -- the same amount of runs Cleveland's starter Justin Masterson allowed in six innings.

"You want to put the runs on the board, obviously, because it makes it easier for everybody," Saltalamacchia said. "But Bardo kept us in that game."

Bard's fastball command was off, and he walked a fine line to an outing that gave Boston a third straight quality start, a streak started by Clay Buchholz and Felix Doubront.

"It forced me to use the changeup and use the breaking ball," Bard said. "That's what kept me in the game and kept them off-balance just enough."

The seventh was the companion big inning to the bottom of the first, when four runs came home. That rally started after Masterson had recorded two outs on four pitches.

Nava went 2-for-2 and was on base twice more because of stray pitches from Masterson that hit him. Since joining the Sox for the start of the series, Nava is 6-for-10 with two doubles, four walks, two HBPs, two strikeouts -- plus a steal, which came Sunday.

"Some guys are smoking balls and they got nothing to show for it," Nava said. "So if you focus on results, you can get too up and down. I just want to be relaxed and let the game come to me."

Middlebrooks, 2-for-3, has nine extra-base hits in his first 10 games. That's the most in the Majors since 2008, when the Reds' Chris Dickerson had nine.

"It's awesome. It really is," Saltalamacchia said of the new guys. "That's what's going to happen throughout the year, you get guys that get injured, you get guys that get called up and to step in like they've done -- it's not easy to come to Boston and step in like they've done and do a great job."

Dustin Pedroia started the seventh-inning rally against Wheeler with a double to center that extended his hit streak to 14 games, the longest active streak in the Majors.

Cleveland leaves with losses in five of its last six.

"It's real tough," Indians left fielder Johnny Damon said after receiving an ovation in what could be one of his last appearances in a game at Fenway Park. "Sometimes you catch teams at the wrong time. It seemed like after that first game they kept hearing all the stuff in the media and they started to hit a bit more. It seemed like all those guys were spraying the ball all around the field really good now -- not just bloop hits. They're making solid contact right now and today the ball was flying."

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