CLEVELAND — The Red Sox went to a five-man infield with one out in the bottom of the 12th inning against the Cleveland Indians early Thursday morning.
With runners on first and third, right fielder Daniel Nava came in to play first base and first baseman Brock Holt took a spot between first and second.
Asdrubal Cabrera handily defeated that strategy, clubbing a home run off Edward Mujica that gave the Indians a 7-4 victory.
It was the sixth walk-off loss of the season for the Red Sox. After losing 10 straight and winning seven straight they have now lost three in a row.
The streakiness is wearing on manager John Farrell.
“For what we’ve known over the past year and a half, it’s been uncharacteristic,” he said. “It’s got some frustration to it. … We’ve got to continue to find ways to execute when the game is calling for it. Offensively or, in tonight’s case, defensively.”
Mujica (2-2) got an out before Mike Aviles reached on an infield single to the shortstop hole. Michael Bourn followed with a single to right field, the ball getting past the inexperienced Holt at first base.
After the positional maneuvers, Cabrera lined the second pitch he saw over the fence in right field for his fifth home run to end the game. In a situation where the Red Sox were trying to get a groundball, Mujica left a splitter right over the plate and Cabrera ended a game that lasted four hours and 29 minutes after a rain delay of two hours and 28 minutes.
“I was trying to keep the ball down and I made a mistake, he said.
The Sox are 8½ games out of first place, their largest deficit of the season. They are off on Thursday and start a three-game series against Detroit on Friday. The Tigers swept three games from the Red Sox at Fenway Park last month.
Carlos Carrasco (1-3) was the winning pitcher, working two innings and striking out four. Six Cleveland relievers allowed two hits over 5 2/3 shutout innings. The Indians have won six consecutive games.
The Indians took a quick 1-0 lead against Red Sox starter Brandon Workman in the first inning.
Cabrera singled to center field with one out on a ball that should have been caught but wasn’t because of miscommunication between center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. and shortstop Stephen Drew, who was playing in his second game of the season.
Cabrera stole second and scored on a single to center by Michael Brantley.
The Indians scored in the first inning in all three games of the series. Workman pitched well in the four innings that followed, allowing one hit. That allowed the Red Sox to, briefly at least, take the lead in the sixth inning.
Indians starter Corey Kluber was working on a two-hit shutout when he hit Xander Bogaerts in the right elbow with a pitch to start the sixth inning. Dustin Pedroia lined out to right field, but David Ortiz broke through with a two-run home run to right field.
Kluber, up 0-and-2 in the count, threw a slider over the plate and Ortiz lined it over the fence in right for his 13th homer.
Ortiz was 4 for 25 before the home run and had not had an extra-base hit since May 26.
Workman took a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the inning and a series of problems followed.
Cabrera walked on four pitches to start the inning. As he went to first base, catcher A.J. Pierzynski reached back to ask umpire Quinn Walcott for a new baseball. He was then ejected a few seconds later after a comment about the strike zone.
“Stuff happens. Sometimes you say the wrong thing,” Pierzynski said.
Farrell seemed annoyed that his catcher, and one of his better recent hitters in recent weeks, could not contain his temper.
“They weren’t seeing eye-to-eye on some things,” Farrell said. “He threw him out.”
After David Ross suited up and came in to catch, Brantley singled and Cabrera went to third base.
Workman was taken out and replaced by lefthander Chris Capuano. He did not get an out.
Jason Kipnis grounded a single into center to score Cabrera. Lonnie Chisenhall’s bunt single loaded the bases before David Murphy singled to right field to drive in two more runs.
Burke Badenhop, the groundball machine, came in and got Yan Gomes to ground to third base. The Red Sox got Chisenhall in a rundown for the first out. Jason Giambi then grounded into a double play to end the inning.
Badenhop got four outs and has gone 23 innings without giving up an earned. He has been an underrated contributor to the bullpen.
Workman allowed three runs on four hits over five innings. He walked two and struck out three.
The Red Sox persevered and tied the game in the seventh thanks to the bottom of their order.
Drew came back from 0-and-2 to draw a leadoff walk. Daniel Nava, freed from exile to start in left field, singled. Bradley then bunted the runners over.
Holt continued to be valuable with a single to center field that scored two runs. That gave Holt nine RBIs in 18 games since being recalled from Triple A Pawtucket on May 17.
Scott Atchison struck Bogaerts before Pedroia again lined to right to end the inning. But the Red Sox had tied the game.
Kluber gave up four runs on five hits over 6 1/3 innings. He had struck out 60 in 43 innings over six starts in May and compiled a 2.09 earned run average.
But once Cleveland’s best pitcher left the game, the Red Sox failed to mount any offense.
For the game, the Red Sox were held to seven hits and were 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position. They scored nine runs and were 3 for 21 with runners in scoring position in the series.
“It happens. We’re playing hard, we’re in every game,” Pierzynski said. “We’re grinding to death. We’re grinding every game. We’re grinding it out. Grinding every at-bat. Grinding every pitch. There’s no lack of effort or lack of motivation or lack of anything. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out.”