CLEVELAND -- The change of scenery, from warm Texas to cold Cleveland, did nothing to reverse the early-season fortunes of the Red Sox. Their offense stuck in neutral and starting pitcher Josh Beckett unable to perform the type of gem necessary to overcome that, the Sox took a 3-1 loss to the Indians on Tuesday, slipping to 0-4 for the first time since 1996.
Manager Terry Francona made an alteration to the lineup, hitting Carl Crawford second and Dustin Pedroia third. But Boston couldn't establish much of anything against Indians right-hander Josh Tomlin.
So by the time it was over, a clubhouse full of veteran hitters with All-Star careers expressed determination to restore order.
"The guys that were here before, they've won," Pedroia said. "The guys that we got have won. We all know how to win. You can't keep a good man down for long -- that's about it."
The Red Sox have scored two runs over the last two games, and in this one, they had just two hits in the final six innings, both of them coming from Pedroia.
"That happens," said Pedroia. "There's going to be times where we score 29 in the last 18 innings. We'll figure it out. We didn't have very many guys on today, that was tough. We'll figure it out."
Multiple players, including Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez, admitted that the team's plate approach is not what it needs to be.
"We did a really poor job today of being selective and getting good pitches to hit," said Gonzalez. "We're just going to have to do better."
Of Boston's nine starting position players, six (Jacoby Ellsbury, Crawford, J.D. Drew, Kevin Youkilis, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Marco Scutaro) are hitting below .200 through the first four games.
The offensive drought would be easier for the hitters to shake off if the win column wasn't dry to this point.
"We obviously wanted to get that first win in," said Crawford. "It's frustrating to go 0-4, especially at the beginning of the year like this. We've just got to keep playing. We want to get that first win in."
Crawford, who along with Gonzalez was a marquee addition, is 2-for-15 and still looking for his first extra-base hit and first stolen base.
"I've been working in the cage, trying to get back to what I do," Crawford said. "Right now, I'm just off a little bit. I've got to keep working at it, trying to get back to how I normally am. At some point, it'll get back right, but right now, it's definitely out of whack."
After being stifled by Rangers lefty Matt Harrison on Sunday, the Red Sox were this time held down by Tomlin. Cleveland's righty fired seven innings of three-hit ball, walking three and striking out three.
"He changed speeds and he hit his spots," Francona said. "He got some easy outs. We didn't pressure him very much. Sometimes you've got to give some credit. He pitched a great game."
The Red Sox did have the tying run at the plate in the top of the ninth, but the game ended when Ortiz hit a lineout to left against Indians closer Chris Perez.
"I put a good swing on it," Ortiz said. "Not too much you can do about it afterwards. I was surprised that the left fielder was playing me down the line. It seems like he got there really easily. I think it's one of those magical moments that coaches and position players guess right. What else can you do? Nothing. I put a good swing on the ball. That's about all you can do."
Beckett was sharp in the first two innings, but he wound up throwing 106 pitches over five innings. He threw a whopping 35 pitches in the third, though he escaped that frame without a run. Beckett gave up five hits and three runs while walking four and striking out four.
"I've got to get ahead a little more," said Beckett. "A 100 pitches in five innings, it's not good enough here."
The Red Sox jumped out first. Ortiz drew a two-out walk in the top of the second and Drew followed with a double to right. Saltalamacchia then broke out of an 0-for-10 drought with an RBI single to right, but Drew was thrown out at the plate to end the rally.
Drew's slide to the plate was on the later side.
"At first, I thought I was going to run right through the bag, but as I started to see him come closer -- at the last second I thought I might be able to run through it," Drew said.
After that, the bats failed to put much of a scare into the Indians.
Cleveland got on the board in the fourth. Travis Hafner got things rolling with a one-out double to right. Orlando Cabrera got Hafner home with a single to right. Jack Hannahan gave the Indians their first lead with a two-out RBI single up the middle.
The Indians stayed on Beckett in the fifth. Asdrubal Cabrera opened the inning with a double. Shin-Soo Choo moved him to third on a groundout, and Carlos Santana made it a 3-1 game with a sacrifice fly to left.
"For us, every team is the same," said Orlando Cabrera. "Surely, they have great players over there. It seems like they are off to a slow start, but we didn't play different. We played hard today and we scored runs and played good defense, pitched great. Hopefully we can keep doing that."
Once the Red Sox hit their stride, a two-run deficit will be offset on many nights. But on this one, it loomed large.
"I think we're all pretty frustrated," Saltalamacchia said. "We know we're better than this. I think everyone knows we're better than this. We've just got to step up our game. It's part of being the Red Sox. We know everyone else is going to step up their game. We need to do the same thing."
"It's not a lot of fun," Francona said. "I don't think anyone is going to feel sorry for us. We just need to come out and just play the game right and things will work out. But if we feel sorry for ourselves, that won't help."