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The Boston Red Sox will have to wait at least one more day to clinch their fifth postseason trip in six years.
Rookie Zach Jackson pitched six solid innings and the Cleveland Indians beat Josh Beckett and the Red Sox 4-3 last night with the help of a bizarre play involving the third base umpire.
Beckett (12-10) struggled with his control, hitting a career-worst three batters, throwing a wild pitch and walking in a run.
Boston had a chance to win in the ninth when Kevin Youkilis singled with two outs and took third on Jason Bay's double. But Jed Lowrie struck out on three pitches against Jensen Lewis, who got his 12th save in 13 opportunities.
The Red Sox, with six games left, fell 2 1/2 games behind AL East leader Tampa Bay, which beat Baltimore 4-2. Boston reached the playoffs as a wild-card team three times in four years before winning the AL East last season.
The Red Sox needed a win to eliminate the New York Yankees and lock up a postseason berth in pursuit of their second straight World Series title and third in five years. They had threats in the sixth and seventh, but both fell short as the Indians won their seventh straight game.
Jackson (1-3) allowed two runs and six hits.
With Cleveland ahead 4-2, Boston had runners at first and second with two outs in the sixth.
Jeff Bailey then lined the ball inside third base. Gerry Davis signaled it was fair, but the ball hit him and stopped just beyond the infield dirt. Third baseman Jamey Carroll picked it up, and Bay, who had rounded third, was caught in a rundown and tagged out.
The Red Sox wasted an excellent chance to go ahead in the seventh.
Youkilis barely missed a three-run homer when his drive hit the left-field wall a few feet from the top. It went for an RBI double that made it 4-3. Then Bay was walked intentionally, loading the bases with one out.
But Rafael Betancourt struck out Lowrie and retired Mark Kotsay on a flyball.
The Red Sox failed to clinch yesterday against a team they beat in the seven-game AL championship series last year after they fell behind 3-1. Beckett won Game 5 to keep that series alive.
The Indians took a 1-0 lead in the second after Beckett retired the first two batters. Ben Francisco doubled, Ryan Garko and Kelly Shoppach were hit by pitches, and Asdrubal Cabrera walked to force in a run.
Youkilis doubled in Jacoby Ellsbury in the third but Cleveland added three runs in the fifth.
Cabrera led off the inning with a single, took second on a groundout and scored on Carroll's single. Carroll took second on a wild pitch and scored on Shin-Soo Choo's hit. Jhonny Peralta's ground-rule double put runners at second and third and Travis Hafner's groundout made it 4-1.
Boston's David Ortiz hit a solo drive in the fifth for his 23rd of the season. It was his fifth homer in seven games after he hit just one in his previous 27.
This program aired on September 23, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.
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