TORONTO (AP) — Marco Estrada came off the disabled list and promptly put a stop to a Blue Jays losing streak.
Estrada pitched seven shutout innings, Josh Donaldson hit a solo home run and Toronto beat the Boston Red Sox 3-0 on Sunday, avoiding a three-game sweep.
Estrada’s efficient outing helped Toronto ended its four-game skid.
“It’s early in the season but we needed that game,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.
Activated off the 15-day DL before the game after missing the start of the season with a sore lower back, Estrada (1-0) gave up five hits, walked two and struck out eight.
“The three times I faced him, he didn’t give me one good pitch to hit,” Boston’s Dustin Pedroia said. “He was on the corners, his changeup was great.”
Estrada, however, said he still has room for improvement as he shakes off some rust.
“I feel pretty good,” Estrada said. “Still a little off. Things are going to get better. Just not quite 100 percent with the feel for things but it’s really close.”
Drew Storen worked the eighth and Roberto Osuna finished for his third save to complete the seven-hitter.
The Red Sox came up empty after scoring at least six runs and getting at least 10 hits in each of their first four games of the season.
“(Estrada) pitched a heck of a game against us,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “We’ve been swinging the bat well here and throughout this road trip and he shut us down.”
Toronto used two singles and a walk to load the bases with nobody out in the first. Jose Bautista was forced out at second on Edwin Encarnacion’s RBI grounder to short, but Pedroia threw high to first as he tried to complete the double play, allowing a second run to score.
After reaching on a fielder’s choice in the third, Pedroia was thrown out at home plate trying to score from first on Xander Bogaerts’ double into the right-field corner. Second baseman Ryan Goins took the throw from Bautista and made a perfect relay to catcher Russell Martin, who tagged Pedroia on the lower left leg just before he slid across the plate.
“That was a huge play,” Estrada said. “I’m thinking I’m going to give up a run there and the game was going to be a little closer. It pumped me up.”
Estrada wasn’t troubled again, retiring 12 of the final 15 batters he faced.
Boston knuckleballer Steven Wright (0-1) allowed two runs, one earned, and five hits over 6 2-3 innings in his season debut. He’s the first Boston starter this season to pitch into the seventh inning, and the first to take a loss.
Donaldson made it 3-0 with a first-pitch drive off Noe Ramirez in the eighth. The homer was his fourth, tying him with Seattle’s Robinson Cano for the AL lead.
Donaldson’s homer ended a streak of 9 1-3 scoreless innings by Boston relievers.
Boston’s Brock Holt was not available to pinch hit after fouling a ball off his right foot Saturday. X-rays were negative and Holt is expected to be available for Monday’s home opener against Baltimore.
Red Sox: RHP Carson Smith (strained forearm) reported no problems following a 25-pitch bullpen session Saturday. Smith will throw another bullpen Monday or Tuesday, manager John Farrell said.
Blue Jays: LHP Franklin Morales (shoulder) was placed on the 15-day DL to make room for Estrada. The move leaves Brett Cecil as the lone lefty in Toronto’s bullpen.
Red Sox: LHP David Price (1-0, 3.00) makes his second start for Boston as the Red Sox face undefeated Baltimore in their home opener Monday. RHP Yovani Gallardo (1-0, 1.80) starts for the Orioles, 5-0. Price is 8-4 with a 2.65 ERA in 19 starts against Baltimore.
Blue Jays: Toronto is off Monday before opening a three-game series against the Yankees on Tuesday. RHP Aaron Sanchez (0-0, 1.29) starts for the Blue Jays against RHP Michael Pineda (1-0, 10.80). Pineda went 1-0 with a 2.79 ERA in three starts against Toronto last season. Sanchez will make his first career start against the Yankees.