Dice-K tries to lift BoSox past Blue Jays

Japanese righty Daisuke Matsuzaka faces the Toronto Blue Jays for the second time this season tonight when the Boston Red Sox host them in the middle game of a three-game series at Fenway Park.

The 37-year-old, limited to just seven starts this season by injury, faced the Blue Jays on June 26 and got a no-decision after allowing a run on six hits in 5 2/3 innings of Boston's 5-1 win at Fenway.

The effort was the 13th of his career against Toronto and kept his record at 7-1 while lowering his earned run average to 3.33 in 83 2/3 innings.

He tossed just an inning while giving up five runs in a subsequent start six days later and was then shelved for nearly two months before returning on Aug. 27 for his only win of 2012 -- a 5-1 triumph over Kansas City.

Matsuzaka gave up an unearned run in seven innings against the Royals, but was touched for six runs in 3 2/3 innings in one start since, a 6-2 loss at Oakland.

He's made just 15 appearances over the last two seasons since tossing 153 2/3 innings in 25 starts in 2010.

Toronto goes with lefty Aaron Laffey, who downed Boston for the first time in his career when he last met them on July 20 in Beantown.

The 27-year-old, who'd been 0-1 in his first seven games against the Red Sox, notched the initial win after tossing seven scoreless innings and scattering eight hits in a 6-1 victory.

He's won just once -- at Oakland on Aug. 5 -- in eight starts since, however, losing four times and picking up three no-decisions while his ERA has risen from 2.77 to 4.46.

Laffey is 2-3 on the road in 2012 with a 3.98 ERA in 43 innings.

Toronto is 5-5 in the last 10 games he's pitched.

On Friday, Henderson Alvarez worked 6 1/3 effective innings and the Blue Jays knocked off the Red Sox, 7-5.

Alvarez (8-12) allowed two runs on four hits with two walks and a strikeout to earn his first win since July 28. Darren Oliver, Steve Delabar and Brandon Lyon combined to finish the game out of the bullpen.

"He was powerful," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "He threw a lot of strikes and he kept the ball on the ground."

Colby Rasmus and Moises Sierra clubbed two-run home runs and Edwin Encarnacion added a solo blast for the Blue Jays, who have won back-to-back games on the heels of a four-game slide.

Mauro Gomez crushed a two-run home run and added an RBI base hit, while Dustin Pedroia ripped a solo shot and finished with a pair of RBI for the Red Sox, who have lost nine of their last 10.

"We're all trying to win the game," Pedroia said. "They scored more runs than we did. Alvarez had good stuff, had good sink on his ball."

Felix Doubront (10-8) took the loss after giving up five runs on six hits and two walks over four-plus innings.

Toronto is 8-5 versus the Red Sox in 2012.