BOSTON — Cleveland closer Chris Perez felt a little stiff while warming up Sunday.
Despite experiencing shoulder discomfort the past couple of weeks, it wasn’t cause for concern.
“I haven’t pitched in a week or so,” Perez said, “so I didn’t think it was out of the ordinary.”
He was wrong.
Perez (2-1) was forced out by his arm with two outs and a 2-1 count on Jacoby Ellsbury. The Boston star followed with a two-run double on Joe Smith’s first pitch, capping a four-run, ninth-inning rally that lifted the Red Sox to a 6-5 win.
“I don’t want to leave that mound at all, especially with the game on the line like that and the team trying to cling to a win,” Perez said. “But you can’t pick when you’re going to get hurt and unfortunately right now it’s a little sore.”
Cleveland led 5-2 entering the ninth, when Perez (2-1) walked Dustin Pedroia leading off. David Ortiz doubled, and Mike Napoli and Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit consecutive RBI groundouts.
Walks to Jonny Gomes and Jose Iglesias around Stephen Drew’s single loaded the bases.
On his third pitch to Ellsbury, Perez felt a pinch in the shoulder. With manager Terry Francona watching at his side, Perez threw a warmup pitch that sailed past catcher Carlos Santana.
“It kind of pinched on me and sent a little pain down my arm,” Perez said.
“Then I tried to throw another pitch and it just wasn’t happening.”
After a lengthy warmup, Smith jogged out from the right-field bullpen and surrendered Ellsbury’s double.
“That’s tough duty,” Francona said. “With a 2-1 count you got to throw a strike, and he did. To Ellsbury’s credit, he put the wood on it and put the barrel on it, and now we’ve got to go regroup.”
Perez admitted the pain wasn’t a complete surprise.
“I’ve been dealing with a little thing for the last couple of weeks, but we stayed on top of it and it had been getting better,” he said. “But today it took a couple steps back.”
Boston won three of four against Cleveland, managed by Francona in his first series back at Fenway Park since leaving the Red Sox after the 2011 season. Francona led the Red Sox to World Series titles in 2004 and 2007.
Craig Breslow (2-0) allowed one run and two hits in two innings. Red Sox starter Felix Doubront gave up four runs — two earned — and five hits in six innings with eight strikeouts.
Cleveland’s Corey Kluber gave up one run and three hits in 6 2-3 innings. Nick Swisher and Jason Kipnis hit solo homers for the Indians.
Santana’s two-run single hit a two-run single in the first after Ellsbury dropped Kipnis’ fly to center for an error.
Daniel Nava had an RBI single in the third after Stephen Drew snapped an 0-for-17 slide with a double. Kipnis homered off the Pesky Pole in right in the fifth, and Swisher homered in the Green Monster seats in left leading off the sixth. Swisher’s sacrifice fly made it 5-1 in the eighth, and Iglesias had a sacrifice fly in the bottom half.
The Indians open a home-and-home series with the first of two in Cincinnati on Monday. Ubaldo Jimenez (3-3, 6.04 ERA) is slated to face the Reds’ Mike Leake (4-2, 3.26 ERA).
* Cleveland’s Michael Bourn was called out by plate umpire Chris Guccione when his bunt attempt hit him while he appeared to be out of the batters’ box as he broke for first in the fifth inning.
* Cleveland 3B Mark Reynolds, moved over in a shifted infield, made a sliding play on Ortiz’s grounder behind the second-base bag in the fourth before getting up and throwing.
* Former Boston and Cleveland OF Trot Nixon was in the Monster seats.