Converted closer Alfredo Aceves coasted through five innings, Mike Napoli and Daniel Nava drove in two runs apiece and the Red Sox, bonded by the tragedy in Boston, struck quickly against Justin Masterson and beat the Cleveland Indians 6-3 on Wednesday night for their fifth straight win.
Aceves (1-0), who began the season in Boston’s bullpen, took a shutout into the sixth before giving up three runs. Andrew Bailey, filling for injured closer Joel Hanrahan, worked the ninth for his first save.
Napoli had an RBI single in the first when the Red Sox scored three off Masterson (3-1), who has already beaten two Cy Young winners this season and came in without allowing a run in 19 straight innings.
Nick Swisher and Jason Giambi homered for the Indians, who dropped their third in a row.
The Red Sox hung a gray “617 Boston Strong” jersey in their dugout, just as they did for Tuesday’s emotional series opener — one day after the deadly marathon bombings back home. The jersey has become a symbol of unity for the club, which will be back at Fenway Park on Friday to open a 10-game homestand.
Shane Victorino, Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Carp had three hits apiece as the Red Sox built Aceves a 5-0 lead.
Boston’s bullpen did its job, combining for four hitless innings and eight strikeouts. Junichi Tazawa struck out four in two innings, Koji Uehara worked a perfect eighth and Bailey had 1-2-3 ninth.
The Indians weren’t at full speed. Center fielder Michael Bourn went on the disabled list and second baseman Jason Kipnis missed his fourth game in a row with a sore elbow.
Aceves coasted through four innings before Cleveland loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth. Asdrubal Cabrera then hit a liner to deep right that appeared as if it might clear Victorino’s head and the bases, but he ran it down and made the catch.
Cabrera ripped off his helmet and slammed it down with two hands in frustration.
Blanked for five innings, the Indians finally got to Aceves and chased him with three runs in the sixth.
Carlos Santana walked leading off and Swisher followed with his second homer, a shot into the bullpen in center. Giambi then hit his 430th career homer — and first hit since signing with the Indians — to bring Cleveland within 5-3. Mark Reynolds hit a double and Aceves was lifted for Tazawa, who got three outs to end the inning.
The Red Sox added an unearned run in the eighth to make it 6-3. Ellsbury led off with a single, moved up on a wild pitch and scored from second when reliever Joe Smith fielded Victorino’s bunt and threw wildly to first for an error.
The mood was much looser in Boston’s clubhouse before the game than on Tuesday, when players solemnly went about their business with the tragedy so fresh on their minds.