BOSTON — Another close game and another late-inning loss for the Boston Red Sox and their listless offense.
Nick Swisher led off the 11th inning with a homer and the Cleveland Indians beat the Red Sox 3-2 on Sunday to gain a split of the four-game series.
For the second straight day, Boston gave up a 2-1 lead in the seventh inning. Cleveland tied it there and won it after the Red Sox failed when they loaded the bases in the ninth.
“We had opportunities. The ninth inning, in particular,” Boston manager John Farrell said. “We walked the bases loaded in the ninth and were a base hit away, or a swing away from ending it right there.
“It’s been elusive. I can’t say that we change our approach. One through nine, it’s not that we’re going about it differently, but it’s been elusive.”
Swisher homered against Junichi Tazawa (1-1), who took the loss one day after walking in the winning run in Cleveland’s 3-2 victory.
“A 2-1 fastball that he left on the inside part of the plate to Swisher,” Farrell said. “He obviously has that capability, but we’re challenging him given his four previous at-bats on the day and maybe some of the inconsistencies he’s had during the season – and got beat on it.”
On Saturday, Boston allowed two unearned runs in the seventh.
It was Swisher’s fourth homer of the season and first since being activated from the disabled list on Thursday before the series opener.
The Red Sox wasted their excellent opportunity in the ninth when they loaded the bases on three walks by John Axford. But Brock Holt ended the threat with a groundout to second against reliever Scott Atchison.
“All we can do is keep going out there and keep getting guys on base and working, that’s all you can do,” Red Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. “You can’t control it once you have hit the ball. I think guys are putting good at-bats on pitchers.”
Cody Allen (3-1) ended the game with two perfect innings, striking out three.
Swisher had been 1 for 8 in two of the first three games of the series after recovering from a hyperextended right knee and was 0 for 4 Sunday before his homer to right field.
The win was the Indians’ second straight after four consecutive losses.
Michael Brantley gave Cleveland a 1-0 lead in the first with his 11th homer. But in the next five innings, Brandon Workman allowed just three hits, a walk and a hit batsman.
Boston tied the game in the first on a single by leadoff hitter Holt, a wild pitch and an RBI single by David Ortiz.
The Red Sox took a 2-1 lead in the fifth against Corey Kluber after a walk to Jackie Bradley Jr. and a single by Holt put runners at first and third with one out.
Dustin Pedroia then grounded to shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who threw to second baseman Jason Kipnis for the forceout. But Pedroia hustled to beat the throw to first, avoiding a double play and allowing Bradley to score.
Just as they did in Saturday night’s loss, the Red Sox took a 2-1 lead into the seventh and lost it. David Murphy walked and reached third on a single by Carlos Santana with no outs. Workman was replaced by Burke Badenhop, who allowed a tying sacrifice fly by Yan Gomes.
Cleveland threatened in the 10th when Craig Breslow issued two-out walks to Brantley and Kipnis, but Lonnie Chisenhall grounded into a forceout.