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Fister cools Tribe bats for first Red Sox win

MLB.com

BOSTON -- If Doug Fister's stat line coming into Monday night's start didn't provide confidence that he could be a solid fill-in for David Price in the Red Sox's rotation, the veteran sinkerballer made his case with a strong performance against one of the hottest teams in the game.

Rafael Devers helped Fister's cause by going 4-for-4 in his sixth career game as the Red Sox rolled to a 6-2 victory over the Indians in the opener of a three-game series at Fenway Park.

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BOSTON -- If Doug Fister's stat line coming into Monday night's start didn't provide confidence that he could be a solid fill-in for David Price in the Red Sox's rotation, the veteran sinkerballer made his case with a strong performance against one of the hottest teams in the game.

Rafael Devers helped Fister's cause by going 4-for-4 in his sixth career game as the Red Sox rolled to a 6-2 victory over the Indians in the opener of a three-game series at Fenway Park.

View Full Game Coverage

"He pitched a gem here tonight," Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Fister. "Mentioned the other day about the work that he's been doing when he went to the bullpen, some adjustments to his stride direction that's allowed him to refine his release point. Tonight, big effect by a big, slow curveball in addition to a lot of sink to his fastball."

Video: CLE@BOS: Farrell discusses Fister's outing in 6-2 win

The American League Central-leading Indians came in with nine wins in their past 10 games, but the equally hot Royals also lost, allowing the Tribe to keep a two-game lead. The Red Sox remained a half-game behind the Yankees in the AL East.

Fister took a shutout into the eighth, which ended when Bradley Zimmer smashed a two-run homer to right-center with two outs. The righty allowed five hits and just the two runs over 7 2/3 innings and struck out five in his first Red Sox win.

"He kind of put on a clinic," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Fister. "Breaking ball, fastball located. Really command it. Really change speeds. He's not going to break the radar gun. I know he's had a couple tough starts, but tonight he commanded everything."

Video: CLE@BOS: Francona talks pitching in loss to Red Sox

Eduardo Nunez continued to sparkle in his first homestand with Boston, adding three hits, two RBIs and a stolen base.

Video: CLE@BOS: Nunez drives in Betts with double to left

Then there was Devers, who continues to roll in his first week in the Major Leagues. The 20-year-old is hitting .417 with two doubles, two homers and four RBIs.

Red-hot rook Devers playing like grizzled vet

"I feel very comfortable," said Devers. "I'm just playing my game and things are going well right now."

Video: CLE@BOS: Devers collects four knocks vs. the Indians

It was the first meeting between the clubs since the Indians swept the Red Sox in the American League Division Series last October.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Betts bloop sparks rally: Sometimes a slumping hitter needs a bloop hit to have his luck change. That's what happened for Mookie Betts in the second, when he hit a soft fly into right off losing pitcher Mike Clevinger (three-plus innings, five runs) that found a nice patch of grass for a two-run single. The hit had an exit velocity of 70.3 mph, according to Statcast™, and gave the Red Sox a 2-0 lead. Entering the final game of July, Betts came in with a .236 average and a .691 OPS for the month.

Video: CLE@BOS: Betts smacks a two-run single to center

Clevinger at a loss to explain recent issues

Holt cuts down Santana: Trailing 5-0, the Indians couldn't afford to run into any outs. But that's exactly what happened when Carlos Santana hit one off the Green Monster to open the fifth. Brock Holt fielded the carom perfectly and fired a strike to second to nail Santana trying to stretch a single.

Video: CLE@BOS: Holt throws Santana out at second

"I always like when guys are hustling," Francona said. "When you're down, though, you hate to give up outs. I know his heart is in the right place. We need to get a line moving. I know he meant well, though. I'd much rather somebody do that than jog down the first-base line."

Making just his third start of the season in left field, Holt also made a fine running catch to end a Cleveland rally in the eighth.

Video: CLE@BOS: Workman gets Ramirez to fly out, escapes jam

QUOTABLE
"Yeah, everything's been very surprising. I knew it was going to be different, but I didn't think it was going to be this different. You see all of these superstars on TV, and you hope to one day be able to meet them. To be able to meet them and say I'm their teammate is pretty cool." -- Devers, on life in the Majors

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
While Fister has had his struggles this season, the right-hander has enjoyed facing the Indians. This marked the 13th time in 17 career outings against Cleveland that Fister limited the club to two or fewer runs.

REPLAY REVIEW
In the second, Boston's Mitch Moreland grounded into a forceout, with Devers called out at second base. Farrell challenged the call, believing Jose Ramirez had left the second-base bag early. After a review, the call was ruled to stand.

Video: CLE@BOS: Red Sox challenge forceout at second base

WHAT'S NEXT
Indians: Right-hander Carlos Carrasco (10-4, 3.58 ERA) is scheduled to take the ball for the Tribe in a 7:10 p.m. ET tilt against the Red Sox on Tuesday at Fenway. The big right-hander is 7-2 with a 2.87 ERA in 11 road starts this season.

Red Sox: Lefty ace Chris Sale (13-4, 2.37) takes the ball for Tuesday's middle game of this three-game series. Sale is 5-7 with a 4.14 ERA in 16 career starts against the Indians. He has been masterful since the All-Star break, firing 20 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast.

Mike Clevinger, Doug Fister