Vizquel a hero in Fenway Park swan song

Vizquel a hero in Fenway Park swan song

Vizquel a hero in Fenway Park swan song
BOSTON -- Omar Vizquel said his favorite memory of Fenway Park was the 1999 All-Star Game, when Ted Williams came out on a "little car" and shook hands all around.

Vizquel and Williams figure to be neighbors in Cooperstown someday, but for now, those around Vizquel just want him to look around a little bit, to soak in some of his final few weeks as a Major League player.

"[First-base coach] Torey Lovullo tried to say something to me like that like a month ago," Vizquel said. "Kind of like look back and see the fans, their reaction when I get a base hit, a smile that you bring to a fan, but I haven't really had time for that."

Blue Jays manager John Farrell played Vizquel on Sunday specifically so he could get one more game at the 100-year-old ballpark. In return, Vizquel delivered a sweep-clinching, go-ahead sac fly to left in the ninth inning of a 4-3 win over the Red Sox.

"That's very nice for him to give me the chance to play here my last time," said Vizquel. "I'm glad that things went all right. My last at-bat was a good at-bat, game-winning RBI and I feel pretty special, because I have a lot of memorable moments here."

Vizquel lifted Clay Buchholz's 121st and final pitch far enough to left field for Rajai Davis to score. Davis started the one-out rally with a single to center after Buchholz retired 13 in a row. Anthony Gose's single helped Davis to third after a steal of second base, and two batters later, Vizquel came up with the bases loaded.

"Whether it's the baseball gods or what have you, he came out, put two big at-bats [together] today," Farrell said of Vizquel. "I thought overall we played a very good series."

The Blue Jays leave Boston on a four-game winning streak overall and in fourth place in the American League East. The free-falling Sox, who've won just one game in September, are in the AL East cellar two games behind Toronto. Before this series, the Blue Jays had been in last since July 29.

The Blue Jays have swept two consecutive three-game series at Fenway, marking the first time they won six straight games in Boston since 1989. And for the first time since 2006, Toronto's taken a season series from the Sox.

"We have basically our whole offense [healthy] except for Jose [Bautista]," said starter Carlos Villanueva of the renewed energy.

Even though some important names came back this series, like Brett Lawrie and J.P. Arencibia, the bottom of Sunday's order wasn't oozing with big sticks. Farrell knew manufacturing runs would be key, and that's why two straight hit-and-run plays were put on in the fourth. They were successful and Toronto plated three runs to go ahead, 3-2.

Two innings later, Dustin Pedroia tied the game at 3 on a solo shot over the Green Monster, on a hanging Villanueva slider. That was the second home run Villanueva gave up, after Jacoby Ellsbury's two-run shot in the second gave the Sox a 2-0 lead, but it was the Pedroia shot Villanueva wanted back.

"Ellsbury I just, it was the pitch I wanted, but not the sequence," said Villanueva, who gave up seven hits, two walks and struck out two on 97 pitches. "Our plan was to go hard and slow, hard and slow. And I think we went fastball, fouled it off and then I went curveball, changeup, changeup. ... That doesn't bother me that much. The Pedroia pitch, I thought I had a lot more options and I've gotten him out with other pitches."

The Sox had some big swings in the bottom of the ninth.

Closer Casey Janssen got the save, his 20th in 23 chances, working around a leadoff single from James Loney. But the second batter of the inning, Cody Ross, hit a shot to left that would've been a game-winning home run had it not gone foul. Ellsbury followed that with a fly out to the warning track in center.

"Man, I thought for a second that I had it," Ross said, "but it just seemed like it took a left turn and unfortunately it went foul. ... "As soon as I came in to the dugout, I was watching Jacoby and he hit it and I got excited for a second and just saw [Colby] Rasmus kind of drift back on it. We put a couple of good charges into it, but we weren't able to get it done."

Farrell said he wasn't worried about Janssen hitting a wall. He gave up a pair of runs in his previous outing, Wednesday in a 6-4 win over the Orioles.

"Because he's not 22-for-22 [in saves]?" Farrell said. "I mean, there's going to be some games along the way where he doesn't get a pitch to a certain area and we caught a little bit of a break when Ross hooked the ball foul. He came back. The one thing that he's done such a great job of, in those games where he's given up the one-run lead, he's shut it off at that point."

Still on the docket for Vizquel is the chase for Babe Ruth in hits. Vizquel, who didn't get a hit, is three away from Ruth's lifetime 2,873 mark.

"It would be something amazing," Vizquel said. "Coming into this year, I never thought I was going to be even close to him. That name wasn't even in a paper, on my mind. And now that things are coming closer to him, it's just an amazing feat. I never thought that a little guy, that they question his bat for a while and wonder if I can stay in the big leagues."

Evan Drellich is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @EvanDrellich. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.