BOSTON – Clay Buchholz pitched six innings of five-hit ball to lower his AL-best ERA to 2.26 and Bill Hall hit a two-run homer as the Boston Red Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-0 in a rain-delayed game Sunday.
The game began 1 hour, 44 minutes late and was stopped for 59 minutes by more rain with two outs in the top of the third of a scoreless tie. That delay didn't bother Buchholz, who needed just two pitches after play resumed to end the inning by retiring Adam Lind on a fly ball to left field.
It was typical of the way Buchholz (15-5) has been pitching lately.
He began the day with a 2.36 ERA and extended his streak to 23 1-3 innings without allowing an earned run. He won his fifth consecutive decision and gave up three runs or less for the 15th time in his last 16 starts. He allowed just five hits for the third straight game, struck out seven and walked three.
Shaun Marcum (11-7) retired Boston's first 12 batters after pitching a one-hitter in his previous game, a 3-1 win at Oakland last Monday night. That hit was a homer by Conor Jackson leading off the seventh.
On Sunday, the Red Sox unleashed their power in the fifth. David Ortiz led off with a triple to left-center that center fielder Vernon Wells, shaded toward right field, couldn't reach despite a hustling attempt. On the next pitch, Adrian Beltre lined a double to left, scoring Ortiz.
Marcum set down the next two batters before Hall hit a towering shot over the left field wall on a 2-1 pitch for his 17th homer of the year. The righty then retired seven of his remaining eight hitters and left after the seventh. He gave up four hits with six strikeouts and no walks.
Jason Frasor took over in the eighth and allowed two runs on a run-scoring double by Ryan Kalish and an RBI single by Ortiz.
The Blue Jays couldn't get going offensively even after Buchholz left. Daniel Bard worked the seventh and Felix Doubront, who entered with a 3-0 lead, worked the last two innings for his second save in three opportunities.
Toronto managed six hits, all singles, and had its best chance in the first. Fred Lewis led off with a walk and took third on Jose Bautista's one-out single. But Buchholz ended the threat with an infield popup and a groundout.
He struck out the side in the second, when he allowed a walk and a single, and fanned two more batters in the third. He struck out Lyle Overbay leading off the fourth and allowed his next runner on a single by Jose Molina to start the fifth. But a flyout and a double play ended that inning.
Buchholz struggled in the sixth when singles by Bautista and Wells put runners at first and second with no outs. But they were stranded there as Lind struck out, Overbay flied out and John McDonald lined out to second baseman Jed Lowrie.
Notes: Toronto 3B Edwin Encarnacion missed his third straight game with a sore left wrist. ... Boston is 11-4 against Toronto this season. ... Kalish's double broke an 0-for-15 slump.