A three-dimensional win for Red Sox
TORONTO — It was only a few weeks ago that Mike Lowell, Jed Lowrie, and Jacoby Ellsbury appeared to have taken up permanent residence on the disabled list.
Lowell had been felled by a sore hip, although his being taken off the active roster was as much a result of the team not knowing what else to do with the veteran infielder.
Lowrie vanished for much of the season, a case of mononucleosis leaving him seemingly sleeping his career away.
Ellsbury missed nearly 10 weeks recovering from fractured ribs, a protracted absence that led to strained relations with the team as he spent the bulk of the time in Arizona.
But in the August heat of a pennant race becoming more compelling by the day, the depleted Red Sox care only what can a player can do right now.
Lowell drove in two runs, one with a tie-breaking home run in the eighth inning, as the Red Sox remained relevant with a 7-5 victory against the Blue Jays last night.
Lowrie also had two RBIs while Ellsbury contributed two hits, one RBI, and several nice running catches in center field as the Sox closed within five games of the Yankees.
“Any help that we can get is big,’’ catcher Victor Martinez said. “We’re trying to stay together and keep pushing.’’
With the score 5-5 in the eighth, Lowell recognized a changeup out of the right hand of reliever Shawn Camp, adjusted his swing, and drove the ball over the fence in left-center.
It was his fourth home run, the second in eight games since he came off the disabled list. Lowell has six RBIs in those games as he fills in for the injured Kevin Youkilis at first base.
“I’m trying to be a run-producer,’’ Lowell said. “If I do that, I feel like I’m doing my part.’’
Rookie Ryan Kalish followed Lowell’s homer with a single and scored when Lowrie drove a double to the gap in right.
Lowrie was 2 for 3 with a walk and is hitting .311 with five RBIs in 15 games since returning. Of Lowrie’s 14 hits, six have been doubles. He is gratified to be part of the wave of unexpected help.
“You’re talking about some good players coming back and being able to contribute,’’ he said. “Any time you get that opportunity to help the club win, that’s what it’s all about.’’
Lowrie had been held out of the previous two games, part of the team’s plan to manage his use as he continues to fight the effects of his illness.
“Day by day, I’m happy with where it’s at right now and it’s only going to get better,’’ Lowrie said. “I’m going to give them what I’ve got every time I go out there but my legs are still getting back underneath me. I like where I am right now and the way everything has gone.’’
For Terry Francona, managing the situation has required 100 different batting orders over 114 games. But he doesn’t mind the fluidity.
“It’s been a little bit revolving but we’re hoping it doesn’t matter,’’ Francona said. “We’re just trying to play the game at hand and win. Getting contributions from all over the map, that’s a good way to play.’’
Rookie Felix Doubront (2-2) picked up the win in relief of an erratic Daisuke Matsuzaka. Manny Delcarmen and Jonathan Papelbon (29 saves) finished off the Jays from there.
Delcarmen worked a perfect eighth in place of usual setup man Daniel Bard, who was given a day off after throwing 29 pitches against the Yankees Monday afternoon.
Doubront allowed a home run by Jose Bautista in the seventh. But the 22-year-old lefty struck out two of the six batters he faced, including Travis Snider with the bases loaded in the sixth.
“There was pressure. But I kind of liked that,’’ said Doubront, who spun around and pumped his fist when he ended the inning.
Toronto starter Ricky Romero lasted only 2 1/3 innings against the Sox on July 9, giving up nine runs. The lefthander was strong in his next four starts, going 3-0 with a 2.05 earned run average.
But it was more of the same against the Sox for Romero last night as he allowed five runs on eight hits over six innings.
Doubles by David Ortiz, Adrian Beltre, and Lowrie produced two runs in the second before Ellsbury made it 3-0 with an RBI single. Lowell had a sacrifice fly in the third.
Matsuzaka gave the lead right back in the bottom of the third.
Inexplicably, he walked light-hitting shortstop John McDonald on five pitches to start the inning. He then walked Fred Lewis.
The next hitter, Travis Snider, took a pitch before hammering a fastball deep over the wall in right to tie the score. Matsuzaka left after 5 2/3 innings and 110 pitches.
J.D. Drew’s home run in the fifth gave the Sox another lead they let get away.
“Tonight was like our whole season. It wasn’t perfect but we kept playing. We did a lot of good things,’’ Francona said. “We did some things also that weren’t real conducive to winning a close game. But we found ways to come back and win.’’