Beckett dismantles the Tribe, brings series back to Boston for sixth game

 

 

By Tom Withers

CLEVELAND – Back to Boston they go. Just the Red Sox being the Red Sox.

Josh Beckett, blocking out everything but Jason Varitek’s target, dominated the Cleveland Indians for the second time and Manny Ramirez drove in the go-ahead run with a 390-foot single as the Red Sox stayed alive in the AL championship series with a 7-1 victory Thursday night in Game 5.

Kevin Youkilis set the tone with a first-inning homer off C.C. Sabathia. The Red Sox, trailing 3-2, sent the best-of-seven series back to Fenway Park to continue a season that was on the brink of being canned for the cold New England winter.

The Red Sox – and Beckett – have done this before. And clearly, Ramirez & Co. cared.

In 2004, Boston rallied from an 0-3 deficit to win the 2004 ALCS against the New York Yankees and went on to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals in four straight for its first World Series title since 1918.

The Red Sox forced a Game 6 on Saturday night, and will start one of October’s brightest stars, Curt Schilling, who has 9-3 record in 17 career postseason starts, against Fausto Carmona.

Beckett, the calm, cool and cocky 20-game winner, ignored a shrilling crowd, some chirping from Indians outfielder Kenny Lofton and even the appearance of an old girlfriend to deny Cleveland fans a chance to see their first pennant-clinching win at home.

In the late innings, drummer John Adams, whose tom-tom beat has pulsated through a special season at Jacobs Field, slumped against his instrument as the Red Sox tacked on runs. Meanwhile, in the Boston bullpen, two relievers used water bottles to playfully bang on backup catcher Doug Mirabelli’s shinguards. Cleveland, which hasn’t won the Series since 1948, had won three straight to seemingly take control.

But the Indians could do little against Beckett, who rarely shook off a sign from Varitek and kept hitters guessing with a rocket fastball and a knee-buckling curve.