Series: Game 1 of 3

Boston leads 1-0 (as of 9/19)

Game 1: Friday, September 19
Game 2: Saturday, September 20
Game 3: Sunday, September 21

Red Sox 2

(90-63, 40-36 away)

Indians 0

(66-89, 37-42 home)

    7:05 PM ET, September 19, 2003

    Progressive Field, Cleveland, Ohio 

    123456789 R H E
    BOS 002000000 2 8 3
    CLE 000000000 0 3 0

    W: J. Burkett (11-8)

    L: J. Stanford (0-3)

    S: A. Embree (1)

    Embree gets rare save for Red Sox

    CLEVELAND (AP) -- Grady Little began the season in search of a closer, and it appears Boston's manager will end it still looking for one.

    John Burkett pitched into the eighth inning, Nomar Garciaparra homered and the Boston Red Sox maintained their AL wild-card lead Friday night with a 2-0 win over the Cleveland Indians.

    Burkett (11-8) allowed just three hits in seven-plus innings and was helped by three double plays as Boston stayed 2{ games ahead of Seattle, which beat Oakland 6-1 in a late game.

    The Red Sox are 27 games over .500 for the first time since 1995.

    Boston's bullpen pitched in, too, but not without a few more heart-in-the-throat moments for Little.

    "We're nervous all the time until the game is over," said Little, who has had seven pitchers get saves this season.

    The Indians put two on with none out in the eighth before Burkett was replaced by Mike Timlin, who retired three straight -- one on a force at third and two on strikeouts.

    Byung-Hyun Kim, acquired in May to settle Boston's closer quandary, got two quick outs in the ninth before hitting two batters on consecutive pitches.

    Little didn't let things get worse and brought in Alan Embree, who retired Ben Broussard for his first save since July 2, 2002, when he got two in a doubleheader against Toronto.

    Embree wished it hadn't been so long between saves, but was happy to get No. 1 when he did.

    "The bottom line right now is getting wins," he said, "and it doesn't matter how we get them."

    The Indians were shut out for just the fourth time this season, an AL low.

    The Red Sox were missing three regulars as Johnny Damon (abdominal pull), Bill Mueller (back spasms) and Trot Nixon (strained calf) were all rested by Little.

    Garciaparra homered in the second off rookie Jason Stanford (0-3) and continued to tattoo Indians pitchers.

    Relying mostly on his off-speed stuff against hitters he had never faced before, the 38-year-old Burkett walked one, struck out three and was never in real danger.

    "That could be the best I've seen him pitch all year," Little said.

    Burkett's infield let him down three times as second baseman Todd Walker made a throwing error in the fourth, Garciaparra booted a grounder in the sixth and Damian Jackson -- who moved from center to second -- couldn't handle a one-hopper in the eighth.

    However, Burkett twice got double plays. After Jackson's error in the eighth, Timlin threw out the lead runner at third on an attempted sacrifice and struck out pinch-hitter Alex Escobar and Coco Crisp.

    "That was huge," Burkett said. "We made a couple errors, but the great plays we made outnumbered them and we made them at the right times."

    Garciaparra only needed a night against the Indians to break out of a recent hitting slump that dropped his average to .307 -- the lowest it had been since May 28.

    After striking out in the first, he hit his 26th homer in the third to give the Red Sox a 2-0 lead.

    Gabe Kapler led off with a double, moved up on a groundout and scored on Walker's sacrifice fly. Garciaparra then hit Stanford's next pitch over the wall in left for his 99th RBI.

    "I didn't want to throw him a changeup," said Stanford, who struck out Garciaparra on three straight changes in the first. "But I went with what Victor (Martinez) called. I'm not blaming Victor, we've been on the same page all season."

    Garciaparra is batting .380 (92-for-242) with 11 homers and 49 RBI in his career against Cleveland.

    Game notes

    Boston is 8-2 in its last 10 road games. ... Indians pitcher C.C. Sabathia sent two bats over to the Boston clubhouse to be signed by Garciaparra and Manny Ramirez for his son, Carsten Charles III, who was born earlier this week. Garciaparra wrote: "To 'Lil C, Your dad is great! All my best." ... The Red Sox (90-63) have reached the 90-win plateau 22 times in their 103-year history. They've done it four times in the past six seasons. ... As a way of reminding the Red Sox of their history of heartbreak, the Indians played a video replay of Bill Buckner's infamous error in the 1986 World Series following the sixth inning.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press