BOSTON -- Nick Swisher watched his shot carry down the right-field line, clear Fenway Park's short green wall and curl around Pesky's Pole. It has been a trying season for Cleveland's first baseman, but he provided precisely what the Indians needed Sunday.
As the Fenway faithful groaned, Swisher flipped his bat away and completed a trot around the bases, celebrating the 11th-inning leadoff home run that sent the Tribe to a 3-2 victory over the Red Sox. Cleveland endured a subpar start from Corey Kluber, weathered withered bats and overcame a near lapse from its bullpen.
Swisher was loving every second of it.
"I wanted to smile all the way around the bases," Swisher said.
Swisher -- once a Yankee, always a Yankee to Red Sox fans -- was booed by Boston's loyalists throughout this four-game set, which was his first series off the disabled list after a bout with a left knee issue. Swisher has been limited to designated hitter duties since rejoining the lineup and has looked to regain not only his health, but also the swing that netted him a long-term contract from Cleveland two winters ago.
In the top of the 11th, Swisher came through, connecting on a 2-1 offering from Red Sox right-hander Junichi Tazawa for the solo shot. The blast marked the fourth of the year for Swisher, who had not cleared a fence since May 16. Heading into that plate appearance, the switch-hitter had been turned in a 1-for-12 showing in the batter's box.
Boston went right after him.
"He obviously has that capability," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "But we're challenging him, given his four previous at-bats on the day and maybe some of the inconsistencies he's had during the season. We got beat on it."
The end result was a split of the four-game series in Boston and a 5-5 ledger on Cleveland's three-city tour that began with stops in Texas and Kansas City.
It was a bonus that Swisher came through with the home run on Father's Day. His wife and one-year-old daughter, Emme, were at Fenway Park for the series. After the game, Swisher was excited to head outside the visitors' clubhouse to see his little girl.
"Even though she won't remember this, I will!" Swisher beamed.
One home run is not going to cure all that has ailed Swisher, especially considering he has hit just .207 through 52 games for the Indians (35-35). A blast like that can, however, have the potential to energize a player and get him going in the right direction. It also helps when the player in question has a solid 10-year big league resume.
Cleveland's hope is that this could be the start of a surge for Swisher.
"We all have confidence in Swish," Kluber said. "I think we all have the feeling that it's going to come around. I mean, when you have that kind of track record, it's not an accident. I don't think you suddenly forget what got you to that point. So, hopefully this is kind of that building block."
Kluber hung in there in opposition of Red Sox righty Brandon Workman, pitching into the sixth for Cleveland. The Indians starter allowed one run in the first (David Ortiz sent a pitch scraping high off the Green Monster in left field for an RBI single) and another in the fifth (Jackie Bradley Jr. walked and later scored on a fielder's choice groundout from Dustin Pedroia).
Kluber scattered five hits, had an uncharacteristically-high four walks (three to Daniel Nava) and threw a wild pitch. Even so, the right-hander sidestepped harm for the most part, giving the Tribe's quieted lineup time to piece together a rally.
"'Sloppy' might be a good word," Kluber said of his performance. "On days when you probably feel like you don't have it, so to speak, you go out there and compete as best you can and try to keep the team in the game. I was able to do that."
The only blemish on Workman's first six frames came via a solo home run from Michael Brantley in the first. That blast marked the 11th of the season for Brantley, establishing a single-season career high for the left fielder with 92 games to play. In the seventh, Workman exited with no outs and runners on the corners, setting up Yan Gomes' game-tying sacrifice fly off Boston righty Burke Badenhop.
From there, Cleveland and Boston engaged in a battle of bullpens.
"There was so much good pitching on both sides," Francona said. "You get on the road in extra innings, and we did some really good things. You can go down the list."
At the top of the list was Tribe lefty Marc Rzepczynski, who took over for Kluber in the sixth and promptly induced an inning-ending double play off the bat of A.J. Pierzynski. Bryan Shaw then worked a clean eighth before John Axford ran into some trouble in the ninth. Fighting command woes, and some questionable calls by home-plate umpire Chris Guccione, Axford loaded the bases with three walks.
Scott Atchison bailed Axford out with a groundout against Brock Holt to end the ninth, avoiding a walk-off loss for Cleveland. The Indians then turned to the hard-throwing Cody Allen, who breezed through six hitters between the 10th and 11th innings to seal the win.
In between, Allen had a nice view of Swisher's home run.
"It was awesome," Allen said. "We were saying, 'Just stay fair and wrap around the pole.' It did."