TORONTO — Daisuke Matsuzaka’s last outing was a 9-2 loss at Fenway Park last Saturday night against the Blue Jays.
The Sox righthander was unable to get out of the second inning, giving up five runs on five hits in 1⅓ innings of work. It left open the speculation that Matsuzaka, a free agent at season’s end, had possibly made his last start in a Red Sox uniform.
Matsuzaka made good use of his reprieve on Friday night — against these same Blue Jays — when he lasted 5⅓ innings and allowed four runs on three hits and three walks, with five strikeouts.
Although he did not factor in the decision of Friday night’s 8-5 victory as much as Ryan Lavarnway, Daniel Nava, or Mauro Gomez — all players of proud manager Arnie Beyeler at Triple A Pawtucket — Matsuzaka took some small measure of accomplishment after leaving with a 5-3 lead.
His was a job well done, despite allowing three runs in the third on a hit batter, two walks, and a pair of run-scoring wild pitches. Sox manager Bobby Valentine confirmed as much when he came to the mound to ask for the ball and told Matsuzaka, “Good job.’’
“Results are everything in this game,’’ Matsuzaka said through interpreter Jeff Cutler. “I’m not really satisfied with how I pitched today, but I’m really happy and satisfied that the team came back to win.’’
Three former Pawtucket farmhands loomed large in the outcome as the Sox (65-80) snapped a two-game skid and started this seven-day, seven-game road trip to Toronto and Tampa on a winning note.
Lavarnway, whose last homer came Sept. 4 at Seattle, went 1 for 3 and drove in four runs after entering the game with just three RBIs in 28 games. He belted a three-run homer to left field off Toronto starter Aaron Laffey to tie it, 3-3, in the fourth.
“That’s what we needed tonight,’’ Lavarnway said of his second homer of the season. “I was glad I could provide it tonight.’’
Nava belted a two-run single to right with the bases loaded that gave the Sox a 5-3 lead in the fifth. After the Blue Jays rallied to tie it in the eighth, Nava prevented Brett Lawrie from scoring the go-ahead run with a spectacular diving grab of Adam Lind’s line drive to left-center.
“I think instincts took over because I didn’t think I’d have to dive for it,’’ Nava said.
Gomez, the International League’s MVP, went 2 for 4 with three runs and recorded the first triple of his major league career, a line drive to right-center off reliever Casey Janssen that eluded the dive of Toronto center fielder Colby Rasmus in the ninth.
Gomez drove in Jacoby Ellsbury, whose leadoff single to center chased Darren Oliver, and Cody Ross, whose one-out single to left kept the inning alive.
“I feel very happy that I was able to lift up the team,’’ Gomez said. “After I struck out in the seventh, I never got my head down. I just tried to stay positive and tried to help the team.’’
After Matsuzaka managed to get through the second inning, he struggled in the third.
“That inning the problem was just getting my arm through too much,’’ Matsuzaka said. “There was something small that was off in my mechanics and I wasn’t able to make that adjustment. From there I was able to settle down and not worry as much about how I was using my arm and balanced my mechanics and that yielded better results.’’
“Today was the most we were on the same page in the starts that we’ve had so far in the big leagues,” said Lavarnway. “He got tough after that third inning. He could’ve let that ruin his day, especially with the way things had been going lately, but he went back out there and battled and finished the start that we needed.’’
The Red Sox scored a pair of runs on two hits and one walk off Chad Jenkins in the fifth.
Mike Aviles sparked the rally when he reached on a one-out single to left. He went to second on Ross’s chopper in front of the plate. When Gomez hit a sharply-struck grounder to third, Aviles ran toward third and executed a brilliant spin move to evade the lunging tag by Lawrie.
Third base umpire Todd Tichenor called Aviles safe, which brought an immediate protest from Toronto manager John Farrell.
After Lavarnway walked to load the bases for Nava, the Sox left fielder stroked a single to right that scored Aviles and Gomez.
Matsuzaka was done for the night after a one-out triple by Lind. He was charged with the run, however, when Yunel Escobar singled to left off reliever Clayton Mortensen, making it 5-4.
After Mortensen retired the next two batters to get out of the sixth, he handed it over to Junichi Tazawa, who retired the side in order in the seventh.Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.