CLEVELAND (AP) – Over the fence, over the bushes and into the trees. Manny Ramirez’s homer was something to behold.
Ramirez hit the third-longest home run at Jacobs Field, a tree-clearing solo shot into a monument area, and added a two-run homer as the Boston Red Sox outslugged the Cleveland Indians 14-9 on Thursday night.
Ramirez’s tape-measure rocket in the second inning off Cliff Lee (5-8), conservatively estimated at 481 feet, set the tone for the Red Sox, who won three of the four games against one of the AL’s other premier teams.
“It was a bomb,” said Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis. “I don’t know how they measure it, but he crushed it.”
After the Indians closed to 12-9, Ramirez connected again with an eighth-inning drive that barely cleared the wall in center. It was his 49th multihomer game, tying Hall of Famers Mel Ott and Eddie Mathews for 12th on the career list.
Following the game, Ramirez declined an interview request as he dressed in the corner of Boston’s clubhouse.
Wily Mo Pena hit a three-run homer and had four RBIs, and Jason Varitek and Mike Lowell drove in two runs apiece as the Red Sox and Indians combined for 23 runs after consecutive 1-0 games.
Ryan Garko hit a three-run shot and Franklin Gutierrez homered for the Indians.
Julian Tavarez (6-8) relieved starter Kason Gabbard in the fifth, working out of a bases-loaded jam. He pitched 2 1-3 innings.
The Red Sox opened a 9-1 lead with a five-run fifth, putting Gabbard in position to improve to 5-0.
But the rookie left-hander let the Indians back in it as Cleveland scored four in their half. Josh Barfield hit a two-run double and scored on Grady Sizemore’s single off the 25-year-old Gabbard, who then walked two to load the bases.
Travis Hafner was hit with a pitch to force in a run and Boston manager Terry Francona pulled Gabbard before things got any worse. Tavarez came on and got Ryan Garko to line out to center.
“It’s kind of embarrassing to have a 9-l lead and have that happen,” Gabbard said. “I’m just looking forward to my next start.”
Pena’s fifth homer, a laser shot off reliever Tom Mastny’s first pitch in the seventh, gave Boston a 12-5 lead.
“That was one of the hardest balls I’ve seen go out,” Francona said. “I thought it might go through (the wall).”
Down by seven, the Indians chipped away and closed to 12-9 in the seventh when Hafner snapped an 0-for-21 skid with an RBI single and Garko connected for his 13th homer.
The Red Sox hammered Lee for seven runs and nine hits in four innings, and as he jogged from the field to loud boos in the fifth, the left-hander sarcastically removed his cap and saluted his critics.
“I wasn’t trying to show anybody up,” Lee explained. “I just took my hat off.”
In Lee’s previous start, he argued with catcher Victor Martinez in the dugout shortly after beaning Texas slugger Sammy Sosa. Lee fell to 0-4 with an 11.70 ERA in his past four starts, a stunning decline for the former 18-game winner, who has two options left and could soon be dropped from Cleveland’s rotation.
“Obviously this was not a good night for him,” said manager Eric Wedge, who added Lee’s status would be discussed in the coming hours.
Ramirez’s first homer was unlike all but two others in the Jake’s history.
He turned on the first pitch from Lee, sending it soaring over a row of shrubs and into a line of trees in Heritage Park, a two-tiered monument park that opened this season. Ramirez’s homer was only bettered by Jim Thome’s 511-footer (1999) and Mark McGwire’s 485-footer (1997) in the ballpark’s 13-year existence.
“I’m not amazed,” Martinez said. “We all know what he can do.”
Ramirez, who homered in his final at-bat as a member of the Indians in 2000, punched his right fist into the air as he rounded first, a defiant sign to some of the booing fans who haven’t forgiven him for leaving as a free agent.
Notes: Red Sox RHP Curt Schilling pitched five scoreless innings for Pawtucket, striking out eight in a rehab start at Toledo, about 90 miles away. Schilling, who hasn’t pitched for Boston in more than a month with shoulder tendinitis, will make at least one more minor league start before he’s activated from the DL. … Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, who became baseball’s first black manager in 1975 with Cleveland, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Robinson received a standing ovation and proudly pumped his fist when his 60-foot lob passed through the strike zone.