BOSTON -- A day after the Indians passed on acquiring any more offensive help for a postseason push, Asdrubal Cabrera reminded them why they might not need it.
Cabrera's break-out season took another step in Monday's series opener at Fenway Park, as the 25-year-old shortstop went 3-for-5 with a pair of home runs and four RBIs, propelling the Indians to a 9-6 win over John Lackey and the Red Sox.
"Asdrubal is the one who sets the whole thing," said manager Manny Acta. "Because we've been trying to keep [Carlos] Santana in the five- or six-hole to keep the pressure off of him, and Asdrubal sets the tone. Swinging the way he's been swinging, like a legit third guy, which to me he's a No. 2 guy. And he's filled that role for us since [Shin-Soo] Choo and Grady [Sizemore] have been out."
Cabrera squeaked a hanging slider off Lackey in the sixth inning just over the right-field wall. And when Red Sox manager Terry Francona turned a tie game over to reliever Daniel Bard -- who hadn't allowed a run in 26 1/3 consecutive innings -- Cabrera took him deep, again to right field, made certain by a replay review by the umpires after they had originally ruled it a single off the wall.
"I saw the ball hit somebody in the stands," said Cabrera. "When I hit the ball, I thought it was a double. This ballpark is really short down the right-field line."
"The pitch to Cabrera was, I thought, a pretty good pitch," said Bard. "But I shook to it, and I didn't realize Lackey had thrown him quite a few of those sliders down and in. I think he was sitting on that. So we should've probably stayed hard him with there. We pitched him the same way too many times and he made us pay."
It was the second multi-homer game of Cabrera's career, and after entering the season with 18 home runs over four seasons, he's already hit 19 this year. Cabrera leads the team in home runs, RBIs (65) and batting average (.293). After an electric first half, he was hitting just .267 with three homers since the All-Star break before Monday's game.
He was the first Indians shortstop in 60 years to hit two home runs in one game at Fenway Park. The last to do it was Ray Boone, on July 27, 1951. Boone's grandson, Aaron, was part of ESPN's broadcasting crew working Monday's game.
"This is something [Cabrera] has been doing all year, from what I've seen," said Jason Kipnis, who had his own 3-for-5 night with a homer and three runs scored. "He's an All-Star for a reason. I think he's going to keep going. Especially when there are guys on base, he's going to be a dangerous hitter."
For a team that had lost eight of its last 10 games, the win came in a timely manner for the Indians, who moved within two games of the first-place Tigers. The nine runs are the most runs the Indians have scored since plating 13 on June 1.
"Big win," Acta said. "You start a road trip here in Boston and then go to Texas. If you start losing, things could easily snowball against these types of clubs. Getting the first one was important. We have a young ballclub, and that can carry a positive affect."
The win also erased a rough outing from starter Josh Tomlin, who couldn't get into any sort of rhythm against baseball's highest-scoring offense.
After the Red Sox scored the game's first run, the Indians struck right back when Michael Brantley doubled in Ezequiel Carrera to tie things up in the third inning. But the Sox quickly countered in the bottom half when Kevin Youkilis drilled a triple off the center-field wall to score Adrian Gonzalez. After the ball bounced around a bit in the outfield, Youkilis tried for the inside-the-park home run but was gunned down at the plate.
Carl Crawford drilled his seventh home run of the year two batters later to give Boston a 3-1 lead.
Lackey ran into more trouble in the sixth inning, when Kipnis doubled with one out. Cabrera then smacked his first home run of the game before Travis Hafner followed with his 10th of the season, depositing a blast into the Red Sox bullpen. It was the fifth time this season the Indians had hit back-to-back home runs.
"Last week, when we had that tough homestand, [Cabrera and Hafner] were down," Acta said. "Just about everybody was scuffling last week. Those are our main bats, and we need those guys so the younger guys don't put any pressure on themselves."
Tomlin was finally able to settle in for two innings, getting six consecutive outs until Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a broken-bat home run that tied the game at 5. Tomlin shattered Saltalamacchia's bat on a changeup high and tight, but the Boston catcher managed to muscle it over the short fence in right field for his 10th of the year.
"Oh, I think you see [broken-bat home runs] sometimes," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "The way bats are now, they're so light and they're so dry sometimes, he hit that ball right on the barrel. That wasn't a jam-shot home run. He hit it right on the barrel, and it exploded. That happens from time to time, just because the bats are so dry."
Tomlin finished the night after six innings, having allowed five runs on 10 hits, the third-highest hit total he's allowed this season.
"That lineup, one through nine, they have a solid lineup," said Tomlin, the only pitcher in Indians history to pitch at least five innings in his first 34 career appearances. "Any mistake I made tonight, they hit it. And even some good pitches I made tonight -- that ball Crawford hit out, that's kind of what I wanted to do, down and in. And he put a good swing on it and hit it out of the park. They're just good hitters."
But the Indians backed Tomlin up with a big-time eighth inning. After Kipnis led off with a single, Cabrera sent a line drive off Bard to right field that appeared to bounce off a fan's knee and back into play. It was initially ruled a single, but after the umpiring crew reviewed the replay, Cabrera was issued his second home run of the game, putting Cleveland on top, 7-5.
"I don't think a human eye can actually see what happened," Acta said. "Our thought was the ball had hit the foul pole back to the outfielder. But after the guy saw it on the monitor, they saw it hit a seat or a lady and came back out. That's what we have instant replay for."
Santana then drew a walk before Kosuke Fukodome moved him over with a base hit. Matt LaPorta -- who made two sensational plays at first base on the evening -- then sent a double to left field to score Santana and give the Indians insurance.
Rafael Perez (4-1), Vinnie Pestano and Chris Perez combined to shut the door after Tomlin exited.
The Indians (54-52) will send lefty David Huff to the mound on Tuesday for the second game of the series and will face Boston ace Josh Beckett at 7:10 p.m. ET.
Jason Mastrodonato is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.