Ortiz effective, but Blue Jays blanked by Lester

Red Sox lefty allows only one baserunner, on Izturis' double in sixth

Ortiz effective, but Blue Jays blanked by Lester

BOSTON -- The Blue Jays' offence has been showing signs of life during the past week, but when it came to facing Jon Lester, there was never really much of a chance.

Boston's ace dominated a Toronto lineup that appeared completely overmatched for most of the game. There were a few hard-hit balls, but in the end, there was next to nothing to show for it.

Infielder Maicer Izturis recorded the lone hit while Lester tossed his third career shutout in Toronto's 5-0 loss to Boston on Friday night at Fenway Park.

"We've always seen him good," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He's one of the better ones in the game and especially as those first few innings go along -- from the side it's tough to tell -- but then you look up at the replays, his balls are cutting, good changeup. He carved us up pretty good tonight."

The Blue Jays appeared as though they were in jeopardy of making history as their first 17 batters were retired in order. Lester needed just 71 pitches to get it done and the only dangerous shots came off the bat of Brett Lawrie, who had a pair of line drives hit directly at Red Sox defenders.

It wasn't until Izturis came to bat with two outs in the sixth that the perfect game bid finally came to an end. Izturis sent the first pitch he saw from Lester into the left-field corner for a double, his seventh extra-base hit of the season.

Lester quickly got out of the sixth by striking out designated hitter Adam Lind and then continued on without allowing another baserunner. He required 118 pitches to record the 10th complete game of his career and first of the season.

"It happens; we're a free-swinging team, there's no question about that," Gibbons said. "Your top pitchers, a lot of the time, when they get ahead of you, they're really tough. He's pretty good."

The 29-year-old Lester struck out five and didn't walk a batter. His dominating outing was a continuation of the success he's had versus Toronto, as he entered the game with a 12-7 mark and 3.82 ERA in 24 career starts against the club.

It marked the first time the Blue Jays had one hit or less since the club was no-hit by Detroit's Justin Verlander on May 7, 2011. The lack of offense also marked the fourth time this season Toronto has been shut out and the first time it was unable to score a run at Fenway since 2010.

Lester improved to 5-0 in eight starts this season and lowered his ERA to 2.73. The five strikeouts were a season low, but it didn't seem to matter as the Blue Jays were unable to string anything together.

"I want them to hit as quick as possible, kind of like what they did early on," Lester said. "Especially with that lineup, if you're able to throw some four-seamers, throw some sinkers and get them off their game plan, it helps. The biggest thing is keeping the ball down. That showed tonight with how many balls they beat into the ground."

Blue Jays right-hander Ramon Ortiz proved to be an unlikely adversary to Lester through the first five innings. His only blemish came in the second when he allowed a run on a fielder's choice after putting runners on first and third.

With the exception of that inning, Ortiz kept Boston off the scoreboard as he pitched out of difficulty with men on base. He allowed just four hits, but walked five. The five walks and the fact that he threw 96 pitches required his departure after five innings.

That was more than the Blue Jays realistically could have expected from the veteran hurler, who was promoted from Triple-A Buffalo to make Friday's start after Brandon Morrow was scratched because of muscle spasms in his upper back and neck.

"That's what we had to do when there was people on base," said Ortiz, who was making his first big league start since July 10, 2011, with the Cubs. "I tried to throw my best pitch down and away or down and inside. Make a good pitch."

Ortiz's outing was a statement of sorts as the Blue Jays have a pair of openings in their rotation. His performance could have been enough to win another start on Wednesday versus the Giants as Toronto continues to be without the services of Josh Johnson and J.A. Happ.

The 39-year-old veteran didn't want to say too much about his chances of sticking around, but Gibbons certainly seemed inclined to give the Dominican native another shot.

"I sure think so, I don't know how he could have done more," Gibbons said.

"He did a tremendous job. He kept us right there. The game got out of hand in the seventh, but he did everything and more than we wanted to or expected. Good for him."

Left-hander Brett Cecil pitched a scoreless sixth, but in the seventh, he allowed the first three batters he faced to reach. Right-hander Mickey Storey entered and allowed back-to-back run-scoring doubles to Daniel Nava and Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the four-run frame.

The Blue Jays have lost three consecutive games after their season-high three-game winning streak earlier in the week. They are 11 games below .500 to match a season low and continue to lose ground in the American League East.

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.