Van Every's clout caps Sox comeback

Van Every's clout caps comeback

CLEVELAND -- "Where's Van Every?" Julio Lugo shouted at no one in particular.

Lugo spotted Jonathan Van Every holding a plate of food and walking through the center of the visitors' clubhouse, and he offered the 29-year-old rookie a bit of veteran advice: "Come talk to reporters, boy," said Lugo, smiling and laughing.

He knew Van Every had plenty to talk about, too. For it was the rookie's solo homer, after all, in the top of the 10th inning that completed a Red Sox comeback Wednesday night, turning what was once a five-run deficit into a 6-5 win over the Indians.

For Van Every, the moment was sweeter than it might have been for any other rookie in the big leagues. He had spent seven seasons in the Indians' farm system. Name the Minor League stop, and Van Every had played there.

Triple-A Buffalo, Double-A Akron, high Class A Kinston and low Class A Lake County all have Van Every's name somewhere in their history. But the organization he'd worked his way through didn't have a place for him in the bigs. So they discarded him, sent him into baseball exile.

Why? That's always the question.

"You've gotta ask them," said Van Every, absent bitterness.

Besides, this wasn't a moment for bitterness anyhow. It was a moment to bask in the moment -- the brightest moment in his baseball career.

"It feels good," said Van Every, who started in right field in place of J.D. Drew. "It'd have been hard to script it any better. It's definitely a good feeling, and it couldn't have come at a better time."

He could now walk into the Indians' front office and tell 'em: Told ya so. Not that he wanted to engage in such talking.

Instead, Van Every decided to let his bat do all of his talking -- or the talking that mattered most.

In a game the Red Sox seemed to have lost early, they showed the kind of fortitude that has been their trademark. They fell behind, 5-0, heading into the fifth inning, and they didn't look as if they'd score anything off right-hander Fausto Carmona.

Keep in mind that Boston was playing without Drew and Kevin Youkilis, both of whom were nursing minor tweaks, so the club didn't have all the firepower in the lineup it needed against the rifle-armed Carmona.

Carmona dominated the Red Sox until his pitch count mounted.

Still, when he left the game with the two outs in the seventh, he had the Indians ahead, 5-2. But he also had to put trust in his leaky bullpen. It sprung a leak again. It allowed the Red Sox to tie the game with three runs in the eighth, one which came home on Van Every's RBI single that poked through the right side of the infield.

Now, the game had turned into a matchup of bullpens. The Red Sox would have the better of it.

Manny Delcarmen, who took over for reliever Javier Lopez, pitched a scoreless eighth. Hideki Okajima followed with a scoreless ninth. And in the 10th, Van Every would give closer Jonathan Papelbon a lead to hold.

Facing Jensen Lewis, a former roommate in Akron, with two out and nobody on, Van Every put the fat of his bat on Lewis' 1-1 changeup and drove the pitch deep into the night. The ball landed in right-center field.

"I hit it good," said Van Every. "All I could do was put a good swing on it and let the ball go. It found a way to get out."

And then came the ribbing. Lugo's advice wasn't the only rookie treatment Van Every got. His teammates pounded him with high-fives and smacks on the head as he came into the dugout after circling the bases.

Theirs was an acknowledgment of a job done well.

"I got a headache from getting hit," Van Every said. "I kept my helmet on, thank goodness. That was smart."

Justice B. Hill is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.