Ryan Dempster tossed six solid innings in a happy homecoming, and the Boston Red Sox kept up their early-season success with a 3-1 decision over the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
Pitching in his native country for the first time in 10 years, the Canadian Dempster (2-2) yielded just a run on four hits to help Boston take the rubber match of this three-game series and improve its MLB-best record to 20-8 with its seventh win in eight outings.
Toronto's lone score came when leadoff hitter Brett Lawrie homered off Dempster in the bottom of the first.
Mike Carp and Jacoby Ellsbury delivered RBI singles to back the Red Sox' strong pitching effort, which included a combined three shutout frames from a quartet of relievers. Joel Hanrahan finished out the victory with a scoreless ninth for his fourth save of the season.
The Blue Jays, on the other hand, received a shaky performance from J.A. Happ (2-2) in their sixth loss in seven games. The lefty tied a career high with seven walks and was touched for two runs before being removed after 3 2/3 innings.
"There's a line between not giving in and making quality pitches, and I was constantly on the wrong side of that line tonight," Happ said.
Lawrie took Dempster's third pitch of the night over the wall in center to give Toronto a 1-0 lead, but Boston scored twice in the top of the second inning to move in front to stay.
Mike Napoli led off the frame with a double and later came around on Carp's one-out single to right to tie the contest. Carp's hit was sandwiched around a pair of Happ walks that loaded the bases for Stephen Drew, who lofted a fly ball to right that brought home Will Middlebrooks for a 2-1 edge.
The Red Sox had chances to extend the margin against Happ, who surrendered a double to Jonny Gomes to open the third but left him stranded, then walked four batters in the fourth but escaped unscathed thanks to a double play and reliever Brad Lincoln coming on to retire Dustin Pedroia with the sacks full.
Dempster had a few control issues of his own in the bottom of the third, walking the bases loaded with one out before inducing an inning-ending double- play grounder to Edwin Encarnacion that kept it a one-run game.
"I was able to make a couple of big pitches to get out of my own mess," Dempster said.
He settled down afterward, however, permitting just one hit over his final three innings and setting down the last seven batters he faced.
Boston, which stranded seven runners through the first four innings, did manage to increase its lead in the sixth. David Ross drew a leadoff walk, took second on a Lincoln wild pitch, then scored when Ellsbury blooped a single to left.
The Blue Jays threatened against the Boston bullpen in the seventh, with a Colby Rasmus single and two more walks loading the bases with two out. However, Junichi Tazawa struck out Adam Lind swinging to prevent any damage.
Dempster's last appearance in Canada came in Montreal on Apr. 19, 2003, while then a member of Cincinnati ... Lincoln was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo prior to the game, with the Jays placing pitcher Josh Johnson on the 15-day disabled list due to right triceps inflammation. Ricky Romero, sent to the minors to begin the season after struggling during the spring, will start Friday's game against Seattle in Johnson's place ... Happ also had seven walks at Florida on July 7, 2011 while with Houston ... Red Sox righty Clay Buchholz, who tossed seven scoreless innings in Wednesday's 10-1 win over Toronto, was named the AL's Pitcher of the Month for April on Thursday ... Lawrie's homer extended his hitting streak to eight games ... Boston's David Ortiz, riding a 22-game hit streak dating back to last season, was held out for rest purposes.