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May 24. 2013 4:30AM

Francona's Tribe too much for Sox

BOSTON — Former Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona made a triumphant return to Fenway Park on Thursday night.

The man who led Boston to its first title in 86 years in 2004 and then added another in 2007 watched his first-place Cleveland Indians pound out 16 hits in a 12-3 win to open a four-game series.

The victory ended a two-game losing streak for the Indians, who have won 19 of their last 24 games and are 27-19. They reached double figures in runs for the sixth time this season.

The loss was the third in the last four games for the second-place Red Sox, who are just 8-20 in their last 20 games and 28-20 overall.

Mark Reynolds (three RBIs), Drew Stubbs (three) and Michael Bourn (two) smacked three hits apiece for the Indians. Stubbs stroked a triple and two doubles, and every Cleveland starter had at least one hit.

All this after the team charter didn’t land in Boston until almost sunrise Thursday after rain delays at home on Wednesday night.

Zach McAllister, unbeaten in his last five starts, worked the first five innings to raise his record to 4-3.

He yielded a three-run homer to David Ortiz (No. 8) to make it 4-3 in the third inning, but the Cleveland bats took over from there, capping their assault with a six-run sixth.

Scott Barnes, recalled earlier in the day, pitched the last three innings for the save, his first in the major leagues.

Ryan Dempster (2-5) lasted three innings and is 0-3 in his last four starts, allowing 15 runs in 13 2/3 innings during that span.

The game ended with a steady rain falling, and more is predicted throughout the weekend.

Boston third baseman Will Middlebrooks left the game after four innings with lower back spasms.

It took Dempster, who threw 127 pitches in 4 2/3 innings in his last start, 85 to get through three innings. That was the end of his night.

The Indians scored in the second. Asdrubal Cabrera led off with a walk and scored on a two-out, pop-fly double down the right field line by Stubbs.

Cleveland scored three in the third on the two-run double by Reynolds and an RBI grounder by Mike Aviles, the infielder the Red Sox sent to Toronto to sign manager John Farrell.

Ortiz connected with two outs in the bottom of the inning, after third base coach Brian Butterfield foolishly sent Jacoby Ellsbury home on Dustin Pedroia’s single.

Hours before the game, Francona met the media in the visiting dugout, saying, “These were some very special years (in Boston), but sometimes they were tough.”

After the first inning, a video tribute to Francona and four ex-Red Sox players now with Cleveland was played.

Francona waved to the crowd, as did Cleveland third base coach Brad Mills, his bench coach in Boston.

The Indians got a run back off Clayton Mortensen in the fourth on a leadoff double by Bourn and RBI single by Cabrera. In the fifth, Aviles reached on an infield hit, stole second and scored on Bourn’s single.

NOTES: Cleveland was again without 1B Nick Swisher, away on a paternity leave after the Tuesday birth of his daughter. He’s expected back Friday. ... The Red Sox reportedly signed LHP Rafael Perez to a minor league contract. ... The Indians designated LHP David Huff for assignment and recalled LHP Scott Barnes from Triple-A Columbus. ... RF Shane Victorino was again out of the Boston lineup with his continuing back problem. He’s day to day. ... Former Boston minor league RHP Justin Masterson, sent to Cleveland in the 2009 Victor Martinez deal, faces his old team for the seventh time, the second this year, when he goes against RHP John Lackey on Friday night. ... The Indians haven’t won a series in Boston since 2005. ... LHP Franklin Morales (back) and C David Ross (concussion) formed the battery for Boston’s Double-A Portland club on Thursday. Morales got the win with five innings of work and Ross went 1 for 3 with a double and an RBI.


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