Verdugo’s two-strike hit over Daniel Johnson’s head in right field spoiled a comeback try by Cleveland, which tied with three runs in the top of the ninth.
Boston took the lead in the seventh inning when Rafael Devers hit a three-run homer, his 33rd of the season.
Bobby Bradley hit an RBI double in the top of the ninth inning, and Franmil Reyes tied the score with a two-run homer, his 25th of the season.
Adam Ottavino (5-3) got win. Bryan Shaw (6-7) took the loss.
Boston went into the ninth with what appeared to be a comfortable three-run lead.
Christian Vazquez opened the seventh with a line drive single to left off right-hander Nick Wittgren and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jack Lopez. After Jonathan Arauz grounded out, right-hander Blake Parker replaced Wittgren and walked designated hitter Kyle Schwarber. Parker got ahead of Devers in the count before Devers sent a 3-2 fastball into the seats above the wall in left-center for a three-run homer.
The Indians rallied in the top of the ninth off right-hander Adam Ottavino. Reyes -pinch-hit homer with two outs after Ramirez led off the ninth with a single and scored on Bradley’s double.
In the bottom of the ninth, pinch-hitter Travis Shaw led off with an infield single off right-hander Bryan Shaw. With two outs, Devers walked and Alex Young replacing Shaw. After an intentional walk to J.D. Martinez, Verdugo stroked an RBI single as Boston won its fourth straight.
Both teams squandered chances earlier in the game. In the bottom of the fifth inning and the top of the sixth, the Red Sox and Indians each had runners on second and third, but failed to score.
Cleveland rookie right-hander Eli Morgan struck out seven over 5 2/3 innings. Boston rookie right-hander Tanner Houck went five innings with seven strikeouts.
THIS AND THAT
Reyes’ home run extended the Indians streak of hitting at least one homer in a game to 18. It is their longest such streak since a team-record 19-gamer in 2000.
Indians: INF Ernie Clement, on the COVID-19 injured list since Aug. 26, was scheduled to begin a rehab assignment, playing Saturday and Sunday for Triple-A Akron. Acting manager DeMarlo Hale said the team would assess Clement’s status after those games. … C Roberto Perez, out since Aug. 4 with right shoulder inflammation, caught six innings for Akron on Friday, going 1 for 3 with an RBI, with a scheduled day off on Saturday. Hale said he would like Perez to catch nine innings before he is reinstated. … RHP Shane Bieber, out since June 14 with a right subscapular strain, is progressing. He was scheduled to pitch a simulated game on Saturday. Depending on how Bieber feels after that, Hale said the right-hander could progress to a rehab start or there might be another sim game scheduled. … RHP Aaron Civale, out since June 22 with a right third finger sprain, is expected to be activated Tuesday to start against Minnesota.
Red Sox: Manager Alex Cora said he talked on Saturday with several of the nine players currently on the COVID-19 injury list, including RHPs Matt Barnes and Hirokazu Sawamura, SS Xander Bogaerts, INF Christian Arroyo and INF Kike Hernandez. “They’re all feeling better,” Cora said, “We just have to still go through the protocols.” Cora expects Hernandez, the first of the nine to go on the IL to be the first reinstated. For now, Hernandez remains in Cleveland, where Boston was playing when Hernandez tested positive on Aug. 27.
Boston and Cleveland wrap up the three-game series and six-game season series on Sunday. Boston leads the season series, 4-1. RHP Nick Pivetta (9-7, 4.67 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Red Sox, opposed by Indians RHP Zach Plesac (9-4, 4.49). Plesac will face Boston for the first time this season. In two career starts, including his major league debut in 2019, he has posted a 3.48 ERA without a decision. This will be Pivetta’s first time facing Cleveland in his five-season career.