The Boston Red Sox aim for a fifth straight victory on Saturday afternoon as they host the Toronto Blue Jays in an American League East battle at Fenway Park.
Boston, which is trying to become the first team in the majors to reach 50 wins this season, owns the most home wins of any team in baseball with 27 which has helped the squad remain in first place in the division, now 3 1/2 games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles.
On Friday night Jacoby Ellsbury and Stephen Drew each had a pair of hits and knocked in two runs as they helped lead Boston to a 7-5 victory in the second game of this four-game set. However, Drew, who registered a double and a triple for the hosts, exited the meeting early in the fourth inning with tightness in his right hamstring.
Also playing a key role for the Sox was Jonny Gomes, who stroked a clutch RBI single with one out in the seventh in order to snap a tie.
While Boston hitters were putting together a 15-hit barrage, Allen Webster was working his way through six innings on the hill, allowing four runs on six hits and a couple of walks in just his fourth major league start, but it was Andrew Miller who posted the win, while Koji Uehara logged his fourth save of the campaign.
"It felt really good the first four innings. I was locating my fastball, being able to get quick outs and stay in there," said Webster, who was filling in for the injured Clay Buchholz.
Josh Johnson made the start for the Jays and was knocked around for eight hits and five runs in just 3 1/3 innings of work. Neil Wagner, one of five relievers used by the visitors, was charged with the loss as he permitted two runs on three hits in just 2/3 innings of action.
"It was one of those frustrating outings where I should have gotten deeper," Johnson said. "They battled with me. They made me throw a lot of pitches and it just ran up my pitch count."
Toronto, which had been one of the hotter teams in the league earlier this month, has now dropped two straight and four of the last five and is now one game under .500 as it rests at the bottom of the AL East standings.
Edwin Encarnacion and Rajai Davis both had a couple of hits for the Jays, the former registering his 23rd home run of the campaign as he knocked in a pair of runs in the setback.
Taking the hill for the visitors this afternoon will be Esmil Rogers, seeking to bounce back from his first loss in nearly two months. The right-hander had won back-to-back efforts versus Texas and Colorado in the middle of June, but on Monday against Tampa Bay he came back to reality.
Through six innings of work in Florida, the one-time reliever allowed four runs on seven hits, three of those being home runs, as well as issuing three walks, in a 4-1 setback.
Rogers has faced off against the Sox four times already this season, but his most recent appearance on May 12 at Fenway Park lasted just 1/3 innings as he gave up two runs on a pair of hits and a walk. In five career outings versus Boston, Rogers has made it through a mere four innings and has an unsightly 13.50 ERA.
As for the home team, Felix Doubront is slated to counter this time around. The lefty is a game over .500 at the moment but has not put a tally in the win column in four weeks when he gave up just one runs on six hits over six innings against the Yankees.
More recently Doubront confronted Detroit on the road last weekend and for the third straight outing he failed to earn a decision after allowing three runs -- two earned -- on four hits and four walks over five innings in a 7-5 road loss.
Doubront, who went up against Toronto one time already this season but again did not earn a decision, has a career mark of 2-2 with one save and a 5.40 ERA in 10 all-time outings versus the Jays.
With the win last night, Boston is now 7-4 against the Jays on the season, 5-2 at home.