BOSTON (AP) - Jarrod Saltalamacchia looked perfectly comfortable in his new role - ace pinch-runner.
The Boston catcher made a headfirst dive across home plate to score the winning run on Jacoby Ellsbury's single in the ninth inning, giving the Red Sox a 3-2 win over the Cleveland Indians on a rainy Tuesday night.
``I just kept going and, like I said, my speed alone just kind of took over,' Saltalamacchia said with a straight face.
Saltalamacchia came in for fellow catcher Jason Varitek, who at 39 years old was not going to be running the bases in a tie game in the ninth inning if the Red Sox had another option on the bench.
Varitek had already done his part by starting the rally with a one-out single, followed by Josh Reddick's blooper to right that put Saltalamacchia in scoring position at second as Ellsbury came to bat.
Ideally, the Red Sox would have rather had the roles reversed - the speedy leadoff hitter on second waiting to be driven home by one of Boston's burly catchers.
But Saltalamacchia, who noted he has legged out two triples this season, was off and running once he saw Ellsbury's hit off of closer Vinnie Pestano (1-1) drop in center field. Saltalamacchia chugged around third, then made a diving slide beat Eziquiel Cabrera's throw home.
Catcher Carlos Santana caught the ball wide of the plate and couldn't reach across in time to beat Saltalamacchia.
``He came in and had a great slide,' Ellsbury said.
Jonathan Papelbon (3-0) got the win after shutting down the Indians on just 10 pitches in the ninth. Boston posted its sixth walk-off win of the season.
Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall hit solo homers for Cleveland's runs in a game delayed at the start by rain for one hour, 35 minutes.
Indians starter David Huff gave up one unearned run and three hits in five innings, and tied his career high with six strikeouts. Huff has allowed just one earned run in three starts this season.
``I liked the way we battled today against this ballclub,' Cleveland manager Manny Acta said. ``A lot of credit goes to David Huff, who pitched a tremendous ballgame, despite warming up twice because of the rain situation.'
Boston scored in the second on a wild pitch that actually struck out Varitek. Huff followed that by striking out Darnell McDonald and Ellsbury.
Huff left with a 2-1 lead on Chisenhall's homer into the right-field corner in the fourth.
``He really made some good pitches when we didn't play good defense behind him and made him throw a ton of extra pitches. He really buckled up and made some great pitches. I can't say enough about him - he gave us a tremendous outing.'
Reliever Rafael Perez took over for the Indians in the sixth and the first batter he faced was Kevin Youkilis, who tied it at 2-all with a towering solo shot that hit one of the signs above the Green Monster.
Youkilis was ejected after his next at-bat, when he struck out on a checked swing and argued on his way back to the dugout.
Kipnis, who homered in his last at-bat Monday, drove the first pitch he saw from Josh Beckett into the Boston bullpen in the first to put the Indians up 1-0.
Beckett was pulled after six innings, allowing six hits and striking out seven.
NOTES: Indians RHP Carlos Carrasco said he planned to drop his appeal of a six-game suspension after he starts against the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday night. Carrasco was suspended and fined $2,500 for throwing at the head of Kansas City's Billy Butler last week. Newly acquired Ubaldo Jimenez will start Friday night at Texas and the Indians are off Monday, giving them some flexibility with their rotation. ... Red Sox SS Marco Scutaro, who left Monday night's game with dizziness, was sent for tests Tuesday that cleared him to play, but he was held out of the starting lineup by manager Terry Francona. Scutaro entered the game in the ninth inning after Youkilis' ejection. Mike Aviles, who started at short, moved over to third. ... Injured Boston SS Jed Lowrie is playing rehab games at Triple-A Pawtucket, where he went 1 for 3 Tuesday and could return soon.
The Associated Press News Service
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