BOSTON (Reuters) - Jacoby Ellsbury lined a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning to keep the Boston Red Sox in first place in the American League East with a 3-2 triumph over the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday.
Ellsbury came to the plate with one out in the ninth and the game tied at 2-2, and drove a pitch into the outfield against Cleveland reliever Vinnie Pestano to end the game.
"You're always looking for that opportunity," Ellsbury told reporters. "To end the game like that with a 'W' on one swing of the bat. Those are exciting."
With the win, the Red Sox (67-41) maintained their one-game lead in both the division and the American League over the New York Yankees (66-42), who beat the Chicago White Sox in a rain-shortened affair.
Boston starter Josh Beckett allowed two runs in six innings of a no-decision, as the home side fell 2-1 behind before Kevin Youkilis tied the game with a solo homer in the sixth.
Closer Jonathan Papelbon (3-0) pitched a perfect ninth to pick up the victory after reliever Franklin Morales fired two scoreless innings for the Red Sox.
"Extremely big," Boston manager Terry Francona said of Morales' contribution. "He gives us not just one, but two innings (and) sets it up where we're not scoring a bunch of runs."
Cleveland twice took the lead in the game on a Jason Kipnis home run in the first inning, and then a homer from Lonnie Chisenhall in the fourth.
Starter David Huff kept the Indians in the game by pitching five innings and allowing just one run, but his team could not hold on.
The loss dropped Cleveland (54-53) three games behind the first-placed Detroit Tigers in the AL Central.
(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Ian Ransom)