SOX SNAP SKID (4:15, END 9, 8-2 SOX)
Ramon Ramirez allowed only a walk in the ninth, and the Red Sox ended their four-losses-in-five-games funk. Jon Lester led the way with a career-high 12 strike outs in six innings. He allowed only ball, an RBI sac fly by Vernon Wells, out of the infield, and three hits, all infield singles. The Red Sox busted out of their offensive slump with four home runs, two by Kevin Youkilis, and 11 hits. Dustin Pedroia led off in place of Jacoby Ellsbury and went 1 for 4 with his first home run since his first at-bat of the season and his first sacrifice bunt this year.
MASTERSON TOUCHED FOR ONE (3:55, END 8, 8-2 SOX)
Masterson had been rolling along, getting his first four outs while allowing only one base runner. With one out, Rios lashed a home run into the second deck, slicing the lead to six.
ONE THE HARD WAY, TWO THE EASY WAY (3:49, TOP 8, 8-1 SOX)
The Red Sox manufactured their sixth run, and scored seven and eight with back-to-back lasers into the Toronto bullpen by Youkilis and Bay. Green led off with a double, and Pedroia pushed him to second with a sacrifice bunt — the team’s second of the game and the season. Drew made it work by lining a sac fly to center. Youkilis followed with second solo homer of the day, and Bay did the same. The homers looked almost identical, screamers that took no time to leave the yard.
LESTER’S Ks (3:19, TOP 7, 5-1 SOX)
Lester’s 12 strikeouts are the most by any Red Sox pitcher this season and the most for any Red Sox lefty since Bruce Hurst struck out 14 on May 5, 1987 against the Oakland A’s. As for righties, Josh Beckett struck out 13 in Tampa Bay in April 2008.
Speaking of strike outs, Bay struck out to lead off the seventh.
CAREER Ks (3:14, END 6, 5-1 SOX)
After Wells popped to Varitek in foul ground, Lester struck out Lind on a high-and-outside, 95-mph fastball. That was his 11th strikeout of the game, which sets a new career best for Lester. For good measure, Lester got K No. 12 when Rolen swung over a curveball
All the strike outs took a toll on Lester’s pitch count. He’s thrown 116 pitches, which means his day is probably over. But what a day. Lester has struck out eight in the last three innings, and he has allowed one ball out of the infield all day long.
RICHMOND BREEZES (3:06, MID 6, 5-1 SOX)
The top of the Sox’ order went down 1-2-3. Pedroia popped to center, Drew skied to left, and Youkilis struck out on a slider.
LESTER STRIKING (3:00, END 5, 5-1 SOX)
Lester struck out the side for the second consecutive inning, bringing his total for the game to 10 through five innings, which matches a career high. Jose Bautista struck out looking, and so did Scutaro, at an outside, 91-mph fastball. Hill walked, and Rios struck out swinging through a 95-mph fastball. Lester was going to the curve for most of his strikeouts early. That inning, it was his well-located fastball.
SOX KNOCKOUT ROMERO, KNOCK AROUND RICHMOND (2:51, MID 5, 5-1 SOX)
The Sox added to their lead, but missed a change to blow the game open. First, Cito Gaston yanked Romero after he walked Youkilis and Bay to lead off the inning. Scott Richmond entered, and Lowell hooked a double to left, scoring Youkilis. Varitek lined out to first. Richmond intentionally walked Ellsbury, bringing up Green. He grounded out to short on the first pitch he saw, leaving the bases loaded.
LESTER QUIETLY DOMINANT (2:36, END 4, 1-1)
Lester struck out Lind swinging at a 77-mph curve to start the inning. Rolen ripped a ball toward third, and Lowell made a great, backhand diving stop but couldn’t make the throw across the time with any accuracy, and Rolen reached. Millar, apparently looking to exhaust the Elton John catalog, came up to “Rocket Man” this time. He struck out looking at a 93-mph fastball on the outside corner. Barajas swung through a 93-mph heater.
Lester hasn’t exactly breezed through the game, pitching from the stretch for much of the outing. But he’s been dominant by several measures. He has seven strikeouts in four innings. All three of Toronto’s hits have been infield singles, and only ball — Vernon Wells’s sac fly in the first — has left the infield.
PEDROIA ENDS HOMER SLUMP (2:25, END 4, 4-1 SOX)
Ellsbury sacrifice bunted to first, moving Ortiz to third and Varitek to second with one out for Green. It was the Sox’ first sac bunt of the season, making the Red Sox the 30th major league to execute a sacrifice bunt. Green struck out, though, bringing up Pedroia with two down and two on. He delivered in a big way, lining a ball down the leftfield line. It stayed long enough to hit the foul pole, his first homer since his first at-bat of the season. He made 217 plate appearances between homers. Drew struck out to end the inning, but the Sox gave Lester a comfortable lead. Can he avoid the big inning?
DAVID DOUBLE (2:18, TOP 4, 1-1)
Ortiz led off with a lined double off the base of the wall in right-center, his third hit since being moved to the sixth spot and second double. Ortiz had been 0 for 8 against the Blue Jays in this series. Varitek walked, bringing up Ellsbury with two on.
Lester got out of the third when Wells shattered his bat grounding out to third, where Lowell made a backhanded play.
GREEN BUSY (2:11, BOT 3, 1-1)
Scutaro chopped a ball off the plate to lead off. Green charged and made a nice pick up on a short hop, but his thrown couldn’t beat Scutaro, who had his second infield single in two at-bats. Green had better luck when Hill rolled a grounder deep in the hole and Green made a backhanded play and strong, sidearmed throw to second to nab Scutaro. Francona said before the game he played Green at short over Julio Lugo because he wanted Green’s range on the turf and with Lester’s cutter creating groundballs. It paid off that play.
Rios popped to second. With two outs and Hill on first, Lester is facing Wells.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY (2:04, MID 3, 1-1)
The Red Sox stranded two more runners and missed a chance to take the lead. Pedroia led off with a grounder to third. Drew singled through the right side. Youkilis grounded out to third. Bay walked. Lowell lined a ball down the leftfield line that missed being fair by inches. Later, on a 3-2 pitch, Lowell swung too early at an 82-mph changeup, ending the inning.
The Red Sox are pushing Romero, too. He’s thrown 59 pitches through three innings.
LESTER GETS WILD, CALMS (1:50, END 2, 1-1)
After Lester started with a 1-2 count, Rolen walked to lead off the inning. Kevin Millar came to the plate while Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” played as his intro music, and then he struck out looking. During Millar’s at-bat, Rolen did move to second on a wild pitch. He advanced no further. Barajas grounded to third and Jose Bautista struck out looking at a curveball, Lester’s fourth strike out of the game.
The Blue Jays are making Lester work. He’s thrown 43 pitches through three innings, roughly 25 for strikes.
BLUNDER FOR GREEN (1:42, MID 2, 1-1)
Jacoby Ellsbury gave the Sox a chance to make Terry Francona look pretty good with the lineup change, but a base-running goof by Nick Green erased a scoring chance. David Ortiz and Jason Varitek both grounded out to start the inning. In the eighth spot, Ellsbury slapped a pitch on an 0-2 count up the middle for a single, then stole second. Green walked, putting two men on for Pedroia.
Before Pedroia had a chance to hit, Green got too far off of first base, apparently thinking Ellsbury was going to try to steal third base; Ellsbury had merely taken an aggressive secondary lead. Catcher Rod Barajas rifled to first, and Green was caught in a rundown to end the inning.
BY WAY OF THE K (1:31, END 1, 1-1)
Lester struck out Lind looking at a 78-mph curveball. The Sox got an early lead, but they gave it right back.
TIED UP (1:29, BOT 1, 1-1 SOX)
Wells lofted a fly ball to left, not too deep but deep enough to plate Scutaro, whose slide just beat the throw, which trickled away from Varitek. Rios remains on second for Adam Lind with two down.
GOOD OMEN, ROUGH START (1:27, BOT 1, 1-0 SOX)
Lester broke Marco Scutaro’s bat with the first pitch of the game, which resulted in a foul ball. Scutaro would bounce a curveball just over Lester’s head a few pitches later and reach on an infield single. Aaron Hill, the major league hits leader at 77, struck out. Alex Rios walked looking at a fastball inside on a 3-2 count. Scutaro and Rios successful executed a double steal, and cleanup hitter Vernon Wells is batting with two in scoring position and one out.
LOWELL STRANDS BAY (1:17, MID 1, 1-0 SOX)
Romero struck out Lowell looking at a 93-mph fastball on the inside corner. Jon Lester is on the mound, trying to bounce back from another start marred by a very bad inning.
THERE’S ONE (1:13, TOP 1, 1-0 SOX)
Kevin Youkilis showed one way to fix the slumping offense, and a shifting lineup had nothing to do with it. With two out — Dustin Pedroia popped the second pitch to first and J.D. Drew struck out swinging at a slider — and none on, Youkilis unloaded on a 2-1 pitch from Ricky Romero and sent it over the right-centerfield fence. Jason Bay worked a full count and then shot a ball into the right-center gap for a double. Here comes Mike Lowell.