Price shuts down Indians, Red Sox earn 90th victory

The Associated Press

BOSTON — Two and a half seasons after he came to Boston, David Price is finally delivering the excitement that accompanied his arrival.

“This is the pitcher Boston signed,” the Red Sox lefty said after pitching eight innings of three-hit, shutout ball to beat the Cleveland Indians 7-0 on Thursday. “For me to get back to that, it’s about time.”

Price (14-6) earned his fifth straight win, getting three bases-loaded doubles in a six-run fifth inning to help the Red Sox split their four-game series with the American League Central-leading Indians. After losing the first two games, Boston won twice in 20 hours to open a 9 1/2-game lead over the idle New York Yankees in the AL East.

The Red Sox, who have the best record in baseball at 90-39, have not lost four games in a row all season, and they are the only team in the majors that has not been swept.

“Hopefully we can be the first to 100, too,” said Blake Swihart, who entered the game as a pinch-runner when Mitch Moreland bruised his knee and delivered the go-ahead double in the fifth.

Price signed a seven-year, $217 million contract before the 2016 season and pitched well in his first season in Boston but has yet to win a playoff game with the Red Sox. He has allowed five runs in six starts since the All-Star break, an ERA of 1.09 that is the lowest in the league among regular starters.

On Thursday, he hit a batter but walked none, striking out seven before leaving to a standing ovation and high fives from his teammates after the top of the eighth. The Indians had not been shut out at Fenway Park since the final week of the 2009 season.

“That’s a playoff-caliber team,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “That’s one of the best teams in the big leagues and he was outstanding today.”

Adam Plutko (4-4) matched him into the fifth, when Sandy Leon led off with a ground-rule double and moved to third on Jackie Bradley Jr.’s single. One out later, Plutko walked the bases loaded and then gave up Swihart’s line drive to right-center that made it 2-0.

J.D. Martinez was intentionally walked, then Xander Bogaerts hit a one-hopper off reliever Adam Cimber that went over third baseman Jose Ramirez’s head and off the tip of his glove for another two-run double. Another intentional walk loaded the bases, and then Eduardo Nunez poked a double down the first-base line to make it 6-0.

In all, Plutko allowed five runs on five hits and five walks, striking out four in 4 1/3 innings.

“He competed like crazy,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “And then we got into the fifth and we just couldn’t stop the bleeding.”

Martinez singled in a run in the sixth — his major league-leading 109th RBI of the season — for Boston’s final run.