BOSTON (AP) – Homers helped Tim Wakefield against Aaron Boone’s team instead of hurting him.

Doug Mirabelli and Mark Bellhorn hit consecutive homers during a four-run sixth inning, and the Boston Red Sox beat the Cleveland Indians 5-2 Wednesday.

It was Wakefield’s first outing against Boone since the seventh game of the 2003 AL championship series, when he allowed Boone’s 11th-inning homer that sent the New York Yankees to the World Series.

Wakefield (7-6) said he had no extra motivation to retire Boone, who went 0-for-3 against him with two flyouts and a groundout.

“Not really,” he said. “That was three years ago, two years ago.”

Boone didn’t think much about his previous game against Wakefield.

“I try to distance myself from it as much as I can,” Boone said. “It’ll be something when I’m done playing (to) maybe reflect on a little more.”

He and Wakefield agreed that the pitcher didn’t have his best knuckleball. Boone had a chance to expand the 2-1 lead Cleveland had taken in the sixth on Victor Martinez’s ninth homer. With runners at first and second and no outs, Boone made good contact but flied out to center.

“I actually felt like I got a lot of pitches to hit today,” he said. “I don’t really enjoy facing him a lot.”

Wakefield allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings, improving to 3-0 in his last four starts after losing five in a row.

“I had better stuff in my last two starts,” he said. “Free-swinging teams (like Cleveland) have helped me in the past.”

Matt Mantei pitched a hitless eighth, and Mike Timlin finished with a two-hit ninth for his first save since April 24 last year – just his fourth in three seasons with the Red Sox.

Keith Foulke got the day off after allowing five runs in 1 2-3 innings and blowing the save in a 12-8 loss Tuesday, but manager Terry Francona isn’t ready to change closers.

“Not right now,” he said. “If (relievers) get outs, there will never be a problem with when they get used.”

Boston had six hits in the sixth inning for the second straight day and took a 5-2 lead off Scott Elarton (4-3).

The Red Sox tied the game 2-2 in the sixth on doubles by Manny Ramirez and Trot Nixon. Mirabelli, who starts only when Wakefield pitches, homered over the left-field seats for a 4-2 lead, and Bellhorn followed with a drive into the right-field stands off Elarton.

“You’ve got through five or six innings and now you’re getting tired as a starting pitcher,” Mirabelli said. “You know that at some point you’re probably going to make a mistake.”

Both homers came on 3-1 counts.

“He just got behind a couple hitters and left a couple of fastballs up and over,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said.

Elarton, who had been 4-0 in his previous seven starts, gave up five runs and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings. He had not allowed more than three runs in any of those seven starts.

Boston, which swept a three-game series at Cleveland last week, avoided being swept in a three-game series at home for the first time since Atlanta did it in June 2002. The Indians lost for just the second time in 10 road games.

John Olerud’s RBI single put Boston ahead in the fourth, but Casey Blake and Martinez gave Cleveland the lead with the first homers off Wakefield since June 1.

Notes: Travis Hafner went 0-for-2 with two walks after hitting two homers and four doubles with eight RBIs in the first two games of the series. … Wakefield recorded his 1,500th career strikeout when he fanned Hafner in the third. … Olerud’s RBI in the fourth was his 1,200th. … Johnny Damon extended his hitting streak to 16 games and Martinez increased his to 11. … Damon and Nixon hit consecutive homers on April 30 at Texas against Pedro Astacio.

AP-ES-06-29-05 1805EDT

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