CLEVELAND — Chris Sale pitching against Cleveland’s injury-riddled lineup looked like a mismatch Thursday night.
Boston’s ace was battered while matching the shortest start of his career, and rookie Yandy Diaz got four hits as the Indians beat the Red Sox 13-6 in a matchup of division leaders.
Sale (14-6) was tagged for seven runs on seven hits and three walks in just three innings. The Indians, held to a combined four hits by the Red Sox in the previous two games, erupted against one of the top contenders for the AL Cy Young Award and roughed up Boston’s bullpen.
The Indians scored four times in the second inning and added three more in the second as Sale’s problems against Cleveland continued. The All-Star lefty is 5-8 with a 4.87 ERA in 29 career appearances vs. the Indians.
Finding an explanation for these numbers was elusive following the game.
“If I knew why they are having so much success, I’d change it,” Sale said.
Said Indians manager Terry Francona: “When you figure this game out, you can tell me.”
“I don’t know, because I guarantee you, our guys aren’t, ‘Oh good, Sale’s pitching,'” he said.
Diaz was 4 for 4 and fell a home run short of the cycle and Giovanny Urshela drove in a career-high four runs. Jay Bruce and Francisco Lindor homered as the Indians had 18 hits, one short of their season high.
Sale gave up six earned runs in this loss, the fourth time he’d ever gone only three innings. He yielded a season-high seven earned runs in five innings against the Indians on Aug. 1 at Fenway Park.
“You saw the pitches they hit, they were center-cut, everything was right there,” Sale said. “I do feel good, so I should be getting better results.”
Trevor Bauer (13-8) allowed four runs in 5 1/3 innings and won his sixth straight decision.
Mitch Moreland homered twice for Boston and drove in four runs in the 11th multihomer game of his career.
Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts exited in the seventh inning with a bruised right knee after a diving attempt for Jose Ramirez’s double.
“I initially hit the wall on the triple (by Diaz in sixth), then I landed on the same spot,” Betts said. “There was no twisting or anything, just impact. It just kind of swelled up.”
Indians first baseman Carlos Santana missed his third straight game because of back tightness. Cleveland is also playing without second baseman Jason Kipnis (strained right hamstring), and outfielders Michael Brantley (sprained right ankle) and Lonnie Chisenhall (strained right calf).
The Indians were held to one hit by Boston’s Doug Fister on Tuesday — a leadoff home run by Lindor. Cleveland had three hits Wednesday, with the only run coming on Edwin Encarnacion’s homer.
Sale also had to dodge a piece of a broken bat that sailed past the mound in the second. Urshela’s bat shattered while hitting a grounder up the middle, causing Sale to lean out of the way.
Red Sox manager John Farrell didn’t mince words when asked about Indians ace Corey Kluber hitting Eduardo Nunez with an eighth-inning pitch Wednesday.
“With his pinpoint control, I think that was a fairly obvious message,” Farrell said.
Kluber retired the first two hitters in the inning that began with Boston leading 1-0. Brock Holt walked and Nunez was hit by a 3-1 pitch. Betts followed with an RBI single and Kluber was pulled.
Ramirez broke an 0-for-17 skid with a first-inning single and added a double in the seventh.
Red Sox: 2B Dustin Pedroia (left knee inflammation) will take infield practice Friday at Fenway Park, marking his first outdoor work since going on the disabled list on Aug. 9.
Indians: Francona said the team is working through a rehab plan for LHP Andrew Miller (right knee tendinitis). The ace reliever is on the DL for the second time this month with the injury.
Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello opens a three-game home series with Baltimore. He has won a season-high four straight starts, striking out 23 over 24 1/3 innings with a 4.07 ERA.
Indians: LHP Ryan Merritt begins a three-game set against Kansas City. He will be recalled from Triple-A Columbus to make his first career start at Progressive Field.