Estrada the quiet hero of win with 3 scoreless

Veteran righty has been bright spot in uneven bullpen this season

Estrada the quiet hero of win with 3 scoreless

BOSTON -- When the Blue Jays needed a strong outing from someone in their bullpen, it was veteran right-hander Marco Estrada who came to the rescue.

Toronto's relievers have been battered and bruised over the past week, and it looked like there was a good chance for a repeat performance on Tuesday night. The Blue Jays found themselves locked into a high-scoring affair against the Red Sox, and both teams were struggling to get outs.

Estrada entered in the fifth inning with the bases loaded and nobody out. Normally, a 9-5 lead would seem pretty secure, but in this particular case, it was hanging by a thread until Estrada somehow limited the damage to one run. That proved to be the turning point in what eventually became an 11-8 win.

"All I was trying to do was locate," a modest Estrada said after tossing three scoreless innings to pick up his first win of the year. "Unfortunately, I walked a guy, but those things are going to happen once in a while. And if you can get out of that with the least amount of damage, that's always a good thing."

Estrada has yet to receive much of an opportunity in a Blue Jays uniform. Part of that is because he missed most of Spring Training with an ankle injury and barely recovered in time to head north with the team. But even once he was fully cleared, there haven't exactly been a lot of chances to pitch.

At one point earlier this year, Estrada went six days without pitching, and his outing on Tuesday was just his sixth of the season. Since allowing a home run to the first batter he faced on April 10, Estrada hasn't surrendered a run over 9 2/3 innings.

The recent performances have made a statement, and could result in Estrada taking on more responsibility in the near future. It appears the Blue Jays haven't completely closed the door on right-hander Aaron Sanchez returning to the bullpen, and if that happens, then Estrada likely would be the one to enter the starting rotation.

Even if that doesn't occur, Estrada at the very least should start appearing in more high-leverage situations.

"We won -- that's all that matters," Estrada said when asked about his role. "I just want to keep going out there and making pitches, that's all I want to do. Whatever happens, whatever other opportunities, I'm going to take them. I'll be ready when the phone rings. I'll be ready for anything."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.