The Boston Red Sox certainly looked like a team that was tired of hearing about a potential collapse down the stretch.
Less than 24 hours after posting their highest run total of the season, the Red Sox seek a sweep of a quick two-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Boston headed into last night's opener on a five-game slide, its longest since beginning the season 0-6. The club also returned home after winning just once on a seven-game road trip, including losses in three of four at Toronto from Sept. 5-8.
Wakefield had been winless in eight appearances since his last victory on July 24 before the 45-year-old limited the Blue Jays to five runs over six innings while getting plenty of run support.
"I'm just glad it's over with. It's been a long road, but it's definitely been worth the wait," Wakefield said.
Jacoby Ellsbury, who has a 17-game hitting streak, and Pedroia each had four hits, scored four times and combined for eight RBI to help the Red Sox move four games ahead of the Rays for the American League Wild Card spot. The Rays, who lost at Baltimore Tuesday night, come to Boston for a four-game series this weekend.
Though third baseman Kevin Youkilis played for the first time in four games due to a nagging hip injury, designated hitter David Ortiz was removed before his first at-bat due to back spasms. His status for this game is unknown.
Jose Bautista hit his major league-leading 42nd homer of the season and J.P. Arencibia also went deep with a three-run shot, but starter Brandon Morrow yielded seven runs -- five earned -- over 5 1/3 innings to take the loss.
Toronto was without shortstop Yunel Escobar due to a left arm soreness and will likely be sidelined for the next few days due to the ailment.
Neither starter for today's finale as fared well in this season series, with the Blue Jays' Ricky Romero going 1-2 with an 8.22 earned run average in three starts versus the Red Sox.
Boston starter John Lackey, meanwhile, has a 12.00 ERA in three 2011 meetings, allowing 20 runs in 15 innings while going 1-2. He was blasted for seven runs over just 2 1/3 innings when he last faced Toronto in a loss on July 4.
Romero, meanwhile, beat the Red Sox on Thursday, giving up three runs on five hits and three walks over 6 2/3 innings. He struck out seven and improved to 14-10 with a 3.01 ERA this year one start after having a six-decision win streak ended by the Yankees on Sept. 3.
The 26-year-old southpaw has struggled when facing Ellsbury this year, giving up three doubles, a homer and four RBI in nine at-bats.
Lackey, meanwhile, has lost three straight starts while yielding at least four earned runs in six of his past eight outings. The right-hander lasted just three innings on Friday versus the Rays, leaving with a left calf contusion after getting hit by a comebacker. He gave up five runs on five hits and three walks before exiting.
The 32-year-old is 12-12 with a 6.30 ERA in 25 starts this season.
Toronto's Rajai Davis is 5-for-8 versus Lackey this year with a pair of doubles, two RBI and three steals, while Bautista is just 2-for-8 off him in the season series.
The Red Sox have won six of eight at home over the Blue Jays this season, taking 10 of 17 in the season series overall so far.