Reliever Javier Lopez bobbled Kevin Youkilis' throw on an Asdrubal Cabrera grounder that should have forced extra innings but instead allowed Mark DeRosa to score the winning run as the Indians beat the Red Sox, 9-8, on Tuesday at Progressive Field, ending Boston's 11-game run of victories.
Lopez (0-2) made no excuses. He was trying to beat the speedy Cabrera to the bag, and instead of it working perfectly, the ball popped out and DeRosa plated the winning run.
"It's a play I make, every pitcher makes, probably millions or at least thousands of times in a career," Lopez said. "It was a heck of a play by Youk to get the ball there."
But the loss went beyond Lopez's error. As much as it was about that, it was about the four-run lead the Red Sox blew in the third inning, and the one-run lead they let slip away almost as soon as they took it in the seventh inning. It was the 11 stranded runners and the three errors, culminating on the game's final play.
"We didn't lose the game on that play," Youkilis said, summing up the missed chances.
And it was another shaky outing from Brad Penny, who didn't make it out of the third inning, getting the Boston bullpen involved much earlier than manager Terry Francona would have wanted.
"He didn't throw enough strikes," Francona said of Penny. "A lot of his fastballs were elevated, and again, we gave them some extra outs too, right in the middle of all that, which doesn't help."
Penny let a few runs score early, but given that he loaded the bases in both the first and second innings, the three runs he gave up -- facilitated in part by errors from Mike Lowell and Julio Lugo -- were relatively minor.
"He just threw balls in the middle of the plate," Francona said. "Again, I thought the ball flew out of his hand pretty well."
In the third, things went downhill for Penny after No. 9 hitter Ben Francisco tied the game with a three-run home run. Grady Sizemore followed that with a hit, and one batter later, Penny walked Victor Martinez to end his night. Hunter Jones got Penny out of the jam, however, getting Travis Hafner to fly out to right field.
In all, Penny allowed seven runs, but only four earned, on seven hits and three walks over 2 2/3 innings.
"I thought after the first inning I started getting the ball down a little better," Penny said. "But I felt pretty good."
Youkilis had a two-run double, and Ellsbury drove in two more runs, helping Boston to build its early lead, which was 7-3 after the Sox hit in the top of the third.
Making his 2009 debut, Lugo singled home a run in the seventh, but DeRosa's solo home run in the bottom of the inning knotted things back up at 8.
Both Lopez and closer Jonathan Papelbon were warming up in the Boston bullpen in the top of the ninth, but with Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Youkilis coming to bat in what would have been the top of the 10th inning, Francona went to Lopez.
Cleveland had already brought on Kerry Wood (1-1) to pitch the top of the ninth. Wood gave up two hits and Boston had runners at the corners with two outs in the ninth, but Ellsbury lined out to second base to end the inning.
The Tribe's bullpen also got an early call to action, after Boston chased starter Anthony Reyes in the top of the third. Cleveland's relief corps gave a yeoman's effort, giving up just one additional run in the final seven innings.
Rafael Betancourt would have been the most reliable arm left in an Indians bullpen that was down to him, Jensen Lewis and Masa Kobayashi.
Instead, the normally reliable Boston bullpen let the game slip away. No one, including Lopez, is too worried about the end of the team's winning streak.
"We'll just come back out tomorrow," Lopez said. "It [will] be nice to get another one going again."
Stephen Ellsesser is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.