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Mike Lowell didn't take long to satisfy the fans that were happy to see him back.
With the crowd still on its feet during a standing ovation, Lowell hit a two-run homer on the first pitch he saw after coming off the disabled list to lead the Boston Red Sox to a 3-1 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night.
"It was definitely more than I expected," Lowell said of the Fenway Park crowd's response. "I don't remember too many ovations like that. I was glad I could come through as quickly as I did."
Josh Beckett dominated for eight innings, holding Cleveland to one run on three hits, then got in the middle of a benches-clearing melee.
But it was the return of Lowell that made his night.
"With him being one of my best friends in baseball, that was a great moment," Beckett said.
The Red Sox won on the day they lost first baseman Kevin Youkilis. He went on the 15-day disabled list with a torn muscle in his right thumb and was going to see a hand specialist, unsure whether he would need season-ending surgery.
"It's a freak thing," he said. "Zero athletes have had this that (the doctors) know. Similar things to it, but not exactly. I don't know how it started."
But the spirited Youkilis was on the field in the eighth inning when the benches emptied. A pitch by Indians reliever Jensen Lewis that sailed behind Adrian Beltre started things. Lewis, Indians third-base coach Steve Smith and Beckett were ejected.
"That's part of the game. The players usually take care of their own thing and probably some of our guys probably felt that our best player was hit on purpose and they were probably trying to protect the guy," Cleveland manager Manny Acta said. "There's no room in the game for any of that kind of stuff, but they usually work it out themselves. A lot of pushing and shoving, some tough guys trying to find other guys but nothing major."
No punches were thrown, though Smith and Red Sox manager Terry Francona got into a heated exchange.
Cleveland's Shin-Soo Choo was on the ground for a while after getting hit by a pitch in the knee in the third. He got up, trotted to first and stole second on the next pitch.
Bill Hall added a solo homer for Boston.
Lowell, who had been on the DL since June 24 with a strained right hip, was expecting to be traded at the July 31 deadline or possibly released the last day or two before he was activated.
"It's been an interesting road," Francona said.
Lowell also made a nice stab on Trevor Crowe's hard grounder to first base in the fifth and dove to the bag for the out.
Beckett (3-1), making his third start after spending just over two months on the DL with a strained lower back, gave up a solo homer to Lou Marson and two singles, striking out eight and walking none.
Jonathan Papelbon worked the ninth for his 25th save, becoming the first pitcher in major league history with 25 saves in each of his first five full seasons.
David Huff (2-10), recalled from Triple-A Columbus on Tuesday, gave up three runs, seven hits, walked two and struck out two in 5 1-3 innings. He was sent to the minors after losing to the Pirates on June 19.
"The pitches I wish that I can honestly take back would be the two home runs pitches," said Huff, who faced Lowell when he was on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket on July 24. "First pitch to Lowell was a fastball away that kind of cut back over the plate."
Indians reliever Justin Germano threw a pitch behind David Ortiz in the seventh inning. Ortiz took a slight glance out to the mound and Beckett was on the top step staring out.
Lewis then threw the first pitch of the inning behind Beltre. Home plate umpire Tim Welke got between Beltre and the mound and seemed to have things under control until Beckett led the Red Sox players out of their dugout, screaming and pointing.
This program aired on August 4, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.
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