Backed by six-run first, Sox soar past Jays

Backed by six-run first, Sox soar past Jays

Backed by six-run first, Sox soar past Jays
BOSTON -- The Red Sox didn't need any late-inning heroics on Wednesday afternoon.

After waiting six innings to score their first run on Tuesday night, the Red Sox had a six-run first inning and beat the Blue Jays, 10-4, on a pleasant afternoon at Fenway Park. Boston won its fifth straight series and wrapped up a nine-game homestand at 7-2 that began with a three-game sweep of Miami.

"It was a good homestand for us. We got off on the right foot against the Marlins and just kept going," said outfielder Cody Ross. "Scoring runs, pitching well, playing good defense -- it's nice to play like that at home."

The Red Sox improved to 9-2 in their last 11 games and scored at least 10 runs for the 12th time this season, the most in the Majors. They will begin a seven-game road trip on Thursday in Seattle.

Since blowing a 9-0 lead vs. the Yankees on April 21 that prompted manager Bobby Valentine to say the club hit rock bottom, the Red Sox are 36-25 and trail only the Bombers for the most wins in that span. Valentine said things could only improve after that collapse, and he's been correct so far.

"I believed it. I wasn't sure of it, but I believed it," Valentine said. "Things were going so wrong and we couldn't catch a break that we had to have a season full of bad things happen. I think things turned around because the guys believed it too and they played hard every night that they came out."

Said second baseman Dustin Pedroia: "We've been playing a ton better since that game. That was definitely a low point in the season, but we've bounced back from that and played good ball."

That painful loss seems long gone. With Wednesday's victory, the Red Sox have now climbed out of last place in the American League East and are tied the Rays for third place at 40-35.

Boston jumped all over Toronto starter Ricky Romero in the first, scoring four runs before the left-hander recorded an out. This was in response to the Jays scoring in the first inning for the third time in the three-game series.

Staked to a 6-1 lead, Jon Lester won his second game in five starts this month. The lefty scattered seven hits over seven innings, allowing four runs. He threw 100 pitches (64 strikes) and improved to 5-1 vs. the Blue Jays at Fenway Park in his career. Lester struck out four, his fewest since a four-inning outing on May 25, but he walked none.

The Red Sox hadn't scored more than four runs in any of Lester's last five starts, but they gave him plenty of support from the start.

"It takes some pressure off, especially after they come out in the first and put one on the board," Lester said. "It's big to have our offense go out there and do that. You can't ask for more from those guys."

David Ortiz launched a solo home run in the fifth. It was his 21st homer this season and No. 399 in his career, moving past Dale Murphy and into a tie with Andres Galarraga and Al Kaline for 49th on the all-time list. Still, the slugger says No. 400 isn't weighing on his mind.

"Right now, that's something I don't really think about," said Ortiz, who went deep five times on the homestand. "I know at some point, when I'm not playing, you start realizing how good a career you probably had. Right now, my focus is just on contributions for this ballclub, trying to win some games and put ourselves in a better situation."

Romero was pulled after he allowed nine runs on seven hits in three-plus innings. He lost just his second game and had his shortest outing of the season. In his last start vs. the Sox, Romero threw 8 1/3 innings of one-run ball on April 11 in Toronto. He never found a groove on Wednesday, though, and walked six.

"Bad day," Romero said. "Didn't locate, didn't throw strikes. Can't give free passes to a team like that. Can't give free passes to anyone. Just a bad day. Just disappointed I wasn't able to come through for the team. We had a chance to take the series."

The Red Sox put up some gaudy offensive numbers while moving a season-high five games over .500.

Adrian Gonzalez drove in three runs and had two hits. Ortiz walked three times and tied a career-high with four runs. Ross went 2-for-3 and scored twice. Mike Aviles had two hits and two RBIs.

Gonzalez extended his hitting streak to eight games with an RBI single in the second inning. During the streak he's 12-for-33 (.364) with two doubles, one home run and seven RBIs.

"He's as aggressive as he was before, but he's been a little more selective and he's hitting the ball hard now," Valentine said.

Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista crushed a solo home run over the Green Monster to lead off the fourth inning. It was the slugger's second homer in the series and the 25th this year, tops in the Major Leagues.

Darnell McDonald robbed Toronto second baseman Kelly Johnson of a home run with a leaping grab at the right field fence in the ninth inning.

"I was visualizing like a Hail Mary pass back in the way where you have to go up and try to go get it," McDonald said. "It just landed in my glove."

Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.