Red Sox eye series win over Blue Jays
Winning series has kept the Boston Red Sox atop the AL East for 73 of the last 77 days and they'll try to take another set from the Toronto Blue Jays Wednesday in the second test of three at Rogers Centre.
The Red Sox squeezed out a 4-2 win in 11 innings on Tuesday, as Shane Victorino stroked a two-run single with two out in the top of the 11th.
"If we get down early, we continue to grind, continue to be relentless at the plate, provide or build opportunities and we finally cashed in with the two- out base hit by Vic," Red Sox manager John Farrell said.
Dustin Pedroia had two hits and an RBI, while David Ortiz and Will Middlebrooks had two hits apiece in the win. Stephen Drew went 0-for-5 and had reached base safely in 26 of his previous 29 games, batting .337 in that time.
Koji Uehara tossed the final 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief for the win and starter Ryan Dempster was solid through the first seven innings, allowing just a run and four hits in the no-decision.
Boston, which is four games ahead of Tampa Bay for the AL East lead and leads the majors with 24 series victories, is 4-4 on a 10-game road trip and has won 10 of the past 17 road contests.
The Red Sox have an overall mark of 27-16 since June 25.
It's been an up-and-down campaign for Red Sox lefty Jon Lester, who gets the nod Wednesday north of the border. Lester was 2-0 in three starts until a tough-luck loss at Kansas City last Thursday, as he overcame a slow first inning to allow three runs -- one earned -- in seven innings.
Lester dropped to 10-7 in 24 starts and has a 4.37 ERA in that span. He is 2-3 in his last five decisions and 14-7 with a 3.67 ERA in 26 career starts against the Blue Jays. In four starts in this series this season, Lester owns a 3-0 mark and a 2.79 ERA.
Toronto has dropped five of its last six games and reliever Aaron Loup was dealt the loss Tuesday for surrendering Victorino's big hit in extra innings. Todd Redmond started for the Jays and tossed 5 1/3 scoreless innings.
"We've been getting some good pitching these last few days, but our offense has just dried up," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.
J.P. Arencibia finished 2-for-4 with two RBI and a home run, while Brett Lawrie added two hits and a run scored. Lawrie has hit safely in 14 of his previous 15 games for a Blue Jays club that is 1-4 on a seven-game homestand and has lost 11 of the last 15 at Rogers Centre.
Toronto will have a tough time making up ground in the AL wild card race and is 13 games off the pace. The club is 17 games behind Boston in the division.
Josh Johnson was slated to pitch Wednesday, but is headed to the disabled list with a sore right forearm. The Jays will instead send Esmil Rogers to the mound Wednesday and he is 3-7 with a 5.12 ERA in 36 games (13 starts). He has lost his last three trips to the hill and is 0-5 in his previous five decisions.
Rogers is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in six games (1 start) lifetime against the Red Sox.
Boston is 9-5 against the Jays this season, going 5-2 across the border.