The way things are going, Blue Jays pitchers might want to start wearing catcher's gear to the mound.
Henderson Alvarez was lucky to escape serious injury after he was struck on the left shin by a comebacker, but the Blue Jays weren't so fortunate, falling 7-2 to the Boston Red Sox on Friday night.
It's the second straight game a Toronto starter has been struck; Brandon Morrow had to be helped off the field after he was drilled on the right shin Wednesday.
This time, it was Alvarez's turn, caught on the left shin by a one-hopper off the bat of Mike Aviles to begin the fifth. The ball ricocheted into foul territory for a single as Alvarez bounded off the mound, throwing his glove down before collapsing in pain.
"I thought my leg was broken," Alvarez said through a translator.
Alvarez was treated on the field and stayed in the game.
"That one hit him pretty square," catcher J.P. Arencibia said. "You don't want to see that two games in a row, a ball back to the pitcher. Fortunately enough he was OK and was able to continue pitching."
Alvarez (3-5) allowed four runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings, walked one and struck out two. The second-year right-hander is 0-3 with a 6.08 ERA in his past four starts, all Blue Jays losses.
"Henderson kept us in the ballgame," manager John Farrell said. "He didn't feel any ill effects from the ground ball off the shin, stayed in it."
Yunel Escobar and rookie David Cooper hit solo homers for Toronto. David Ortiz connected for the Red Sox, who have won four of five.
The victory moved the Red Sox level with the Blue Jays at 27-25, tied for fourth in the AL East and three games behind first-place Tampa Bay.
Clay Buchholz became the first opposing pitcher to win six straight road starts against the Blue Jays. Buchholz has not lost in Toronto since July 17, 2009, and is 6-2 with a 1.72 ERA in eight career starts at Rogers Centre.
Buchholz (5-2) won for the first time in four starts, giving up two runs, both on solo homers, and six hits in a season-high eight innings. He walked two and struck out seven, also a season-high.
"He's been building to that, that's for sure," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. "Clay Buchholz was terrific tonight. Extra on his fastball, terrific changeup, changed his angle a little on his breaking ball, threw strikes, very competitive. I like that, he likes that and I expect we can get more of the same."
Daniel Nava had a career-high four hits, including three doubles, and Adrian Gonzalez added three hits for the Red Sox, who have not lost consecutive games since May 8 and 9 at Kansas City.
Valentine said Nava, who was promoted from the minor leagues on May 10, "looks like as good a hitter as you want."
Scott Atchison finished in the ninth for the Red Sox.
Ortiz got Boston on the board in the second, ending a 10-pitch at bat with a leadoff homer to left, his 13th. The Red Sox made it 2-0 in the second when Nava doubled and scored on Gonzalez's RBI single.
Toronto cut the lead in half in the third when Escobar snapped an 0 for 11 slump with a two-out homer, his third, but Boston restored its two-run cushion on Saltalamacchia's RBI fielder's choice.
Ryan Sweeney doubled to begin the seventh and Alvarez left after striking out Aviles. Luis Perez came on and got Nick Punto to ground out, then gave up four straight two-out hits.
"Two out hits are a thing of beauty, it puts the other team to sleep," Valentine said.
Scott Podsednik singled home a run and scored on Nava's double before Gonzalez and Ortiz followed with RBI singles. Ortiz was thrown out at first to end the inning after taking too wide a turn on his base hit off the wall in right.
Jose Bautista got another outfield assist in the ninth when he threw out Nick Punto at second base.
Cooper hit an opposite field homer in the seventh, his first.
NOTES: Boston leads the major leagues with 207 extra base hits, including 137 doubles. ... Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia (right thumb) took grounders before the game but did not play, his fourth straight day out of the lineup. ... Boston INF Kevin Youkilis got the day off. ... The Blue Jays assigned Vladimir Guerrero to Triple-A Las Vegas. Guerrero, who signed a minor league contract last month, had been at Class-A Dunedin. He'll make his Las Vegas debut Saturday. ... Boston promoted Mark Prior to Triple-A Pawtucket. The former-first round pick had been at extended spring training.