CLEVELAND — Had Andrew Cashner blown his first career save chance on Tuesday night, manager Alex Cora would have been roasted by Red Sox fans from Montpelier to Mattapan and all points in between.
Cashner had been demoted to the bullpen only a day earlier after a terrible start Sunday, yet there he was with the ball in his hand trying to hold a one-lead against the Cleveland Indians in the 10th inning.
Cora knew how it would play if it didn’t work. He didn’t care.
“That’s the way it is. That’s the way I manage,” he said. “I prepare myself before games and we go over situations and we make decisions. That’s part of the job.”
Somehow it all worked out. Five relievers recorded the final 10 outs with Cashner getting his first career save as the Sox beat the Indians, 7-6, in 10 innings.
Rafael Devers was 6 for 6 with four doubles for the Sox. He is the first Sox player with six hits since Nomar Garciaparra in 2003 and the only major league player since at least 1908 with six hits, four of them doubles.
Devers, who raised his batting average to .325, also drove in three runs.
“I just tried to have good at-bats. That was all I had,” Devers said. “I was just trying to get on base.”
But it was Jackie Bradley Jr.’s home run to right field in the top of the 10th that won the game.
“Somebody had to do something,” Bradley said.
That left it to Cashner. He allowed a leadoff single by Carlos Santana but was able to keep the Indians from scoring as the Sox snapped a three-game losing streak.
Cashner struck out Jose Ramirez and Roberto Perez to end it and pumped his first.
The desperation felt like a playoff game, a notion Cora agreed with later.
“Right there I owe it to guys,” he said.
In a season where the Red Sox have been seemingly making up a bullpen strategy as they go along, this game was particularly eventful.
Chris Sale handed off a 6-4 lead with two outs in the seventh.
Matt Barnes and Josh Taylor each got one out before Nate Eovaldi, who was scheduled to start on Wednesday, came in and got two more. Brandon Workman, who had not allowed a run in seven consecutive appearances, blew the save in the ninth when Francisco Lindor doubled in Greg Allen.
But Lindor tried to steal third and was thrown out by Sandy Leon for the second out, the initial safe call overturned on review. Workman then finished the inning.
Sale took a 6-1 lead into the sixth inning and to that point had allowed three hits and struck out 10. But he allowed four runs over a span of eight batters, two of them unearned because of an error by Devers.
Sale allowed five runs (three earned) on five hits. He walked two and struck out 12.
The lefthander made history in the third inning when he struck out Oscar Mercado swinging at a one of his signature sliders.
It was the 2,000th strikeout of Sale’s career in only 1,626 innings, a record. Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez had the record of 1,711⅓ innings.
“It’s cool. It’s special,” Sale said. “I’m not a real big fan of stats and numbers, but I appreciate that. A lot of people put in a lot of hard work to get me here.”
Indians starter Mike Clevinger allowed 11 hits and walked two over 4⅔ innings but managed to give up only four runs.
Mookie Betts led off the game with a triple to center field and scored when Devers lined a double to left.
Marco Hernandez singled with one out in the second and took second when Clevinger walked Leon. Betts delivered a two-out single to left field to score Hernandez. But with the play in front of him, Leon was thrown out going to third to end the inning.
The Indians broke through against Sale in the fourth inning when Santana got a first-pitch fastball over plate and sent it over the wall in right center for his third homer in three games and 27th of the season.
The Sox padded their lead in the fifth. With Devers on third and Martinez on first, Mitch Moreland lined a two-out single to right field. Hernandez followed with a single to left to score Martinez and the Sox had a 4-1 lead.
Bradley was hit by a pitch from Indians reliever Josh Smith leading off the sixth inning. Betts then threw a walk before Devers cracked a double high off the wall in left-center to drive in both teammates.
Devers has 43 doubles, the most in the American League.
With a 6-1 and Sale dealing, the Sox appeared to have the game under control. But with two outs in the sixth inning, Sale walked Santana
Franmil Reyes hit the next pitch, a fastball up and over the plate, out to right field for his second homer with the Indians since coming over from the Padres at the trade deadline.
Sale came back out for the seventh and walked leadoff hitter Perez before striking out Jason Kipnis.
Allen followed with a ball down the third-base line that could have been a double play. But Devers misplayed a short hop off the edge of the grass for his 18th error and the ball rolled down the line.
Perez went to third and Allen to second. Tyler Naquin popped up to first base for the second out. But Lindor punched a double to left field off a changeup and two runs scored.