CLEVELAND Casey Blake and Jhonny Peralta homered in a seven-run fifth, and Paul Byrd's pitching helped the Cleveland Indians beat the Boston Red Sox in Game 4 of the AL championship series Tuesday night.
The Indians lead the series 3-1 following the Tuesday win. After a day off Wednesday, Josh Beckett is scheduled to pitch Game 5 for Boston against Cleveland ace C.C. Sabathia in a rematch of the opening-game starters.
The seven runs provided enough of a cushion for the Indians to withstand homers by Boston's first three batters in the sixth. Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz connected off Byrd before Manny Ramirez greeted Jensen Lewis with a 451-foot shot to center.
It was the second time a team hit three consecutive homers in the postseason. Tim Raines, Derek Jeter and Paul O'Neill did it for the New York Yankees against Cleveland in 1997.
Ramirez, the career leader with 24 postseason homers, held his arms up over his head after connecting and then started toward first with a slow walk. His drive pulled the Red Sox to 7-3.
Tim Wakefield didn't allow a hit until Peralta doubled with two outs in the fourth. But the knuckleballer, pitching for the first time in 17 days, didn't last much longer.
He became the third straight Boston starter to be chased after just 4 2-3 innings, all knocked out of the game by singles from Victor Martinez.
Byrd allowed four hits through five innings, extending Boston's slump to 19 scoreless innings in the last 20, before leaving with no outs in the sixth.
The seven-run inning tied a club record set three nights earlier when Cleveland scored seven in the top of the 11th to beat Boston 13-6 and even the series 1-1.
Blake started the fifth with a leadoff homer on the fourth anniversary of an historic homer off Wakefield by another third baseman. Aaron Boone hit that one in the 11th inning of Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, giving the New York Yankees a 6-5 win and a spot in the World Series.
Wakefield had been left off the first-round playoff roster because of a back injury. But he said he felt fine, and he was pitching well until Blake's homer.
Franklin Gutierrez followed with a single, Kelly Shoppach was hit by a pitch and Grady Sizemore grounded into a forceout at second, leaving runners at first and third.
Asdrubal Cabrera then came up and singled off Wakefield's glove. The ball trickled behind the pitcher and Gutierrez scored. Had Wakefield not touched it, second baseman Dustin Pedroia was in position to start a double play, which would have ended the inning with the score 1-0.
Travis Hafner then fanned for the third time against Wakefield, who tied his career high with 17 wins this season. But with two outs, Martinez grounded a single to left, scoring Sizemore and bringing Manny Delcarmen out of the bullpen.
Peralta greeted Delcarmen with a three-run homer. Kenny Lofton then singled, stole second and scored on Blake's single, his second hit of the inning.
Byrd pitched for the first time since starting the Indians' victory on Oct. 8 that clinched the AL division series. The 36-year-old allowed two runs and eight hits in five innings as Cleveland beat the Yankees 6-4 to advance to the ALCS.
Boston threatened after Byrd retired the first two batters in the third. Pedroia singled through the hole between first and second base and took second when Youkilis lined a single to left. Then Byrd got Ortiz to ground into a forceout.
Byrd allowed a single to J.D. Drew in the fourth, then retired the side in order in the fifth.
Ramirez also set an LCS record with his 10th homer, breaking a tie with Bernie Williams and George Brett.