SOX SWEEP (10:05, END 9, 5-1 SOX)
Jonathan Papelbon pitched a the ninth, allowing only a single to Hill, to close the game out, giving the Red Sox a sweep over first-place Toronto. Jason Bay hit his 13th home run of the season, a two-blast to right-centerfield on the first inning. Jon Lester allowed one run over 6 1/3 innings, his best start in a month and a continuation of the Red Sox’ starters resurgence. From Opening Day to last Friday, after the last time Lester pitched, the starters’ had a combined ERA of 5.96. During the last full trip through the rotation, during which every pitcher threw into the seventh and allowed two or fewer runs, the collective ERA has been 2.01.
RAMIREZ GOES STRONG (9:49, MID 8, 5-1 SOX)
Rolen led off with a single, and then Ramirez shut down the Jays. He ended the inning by blazing a fastball by Bautista. Jonathan Papelbon is warming up while Ortiz leads off the bottom half of the inning.
ONE AND DONE (9:32, MID 7, 5-1 SOX)
Ramirez gave up a single to left by Hill, which scored Bautista. But he struck out Rios on a foul tip and got Wells to fly the pitch he saw down the leftfield line, where Bay made a tricky catch right at the side wall. Lester is charged with the earned run.
Lester’s final line: 6.1, 8 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 4K
LESTER DONE (9:23, TOP 7, 5-0 SOX)
For an entire turn through the rotation, every Red Sox starter has pitched at least into the seventh inning and has allowed two earned runs or fewer. Lester is out of the game with one out in the seventh, having walked Bautista and allowed a single to Scuataro. Lester allowed eight hits and two walks, so it wasn’t pretty. But he stayed poised and, obviously, did his job.
Ramon Ramirez has replaced him. Two on, one out.
THERE IT IS (9:05, MID 6, 5-0 SOX)
… Lester’s first 1-2-3 inning of the night. Home plate umpire Marvin Hudson has been giving Lester the outside strike, and he took advantage that inning. Lind grounded to short, Rolen struck out looking at a cutter that might have been outside. Millar flied to left.
BIG LEAGUE (8:59, END 5, 5-0 SOX)
Youkilis hammered a fly ball deep to center, pushing Wells against the wall. The catch sent Pedroia to third, but Bay grounded out to third to end the inning.
RAY GONE (8:54, BOT 5, 5-0 SOX)
Ortiz stayed back on a curveball and ripped a single to right, sending Pedroia to second and knocking Ray from the game. League is on.
TACKING ON (8:50, BOT 5, 5-0 SOX)
The Sox might close to knocking out Ray, who has thrown more than 80 pitches. Lugo reached on an error by Scutaro at short to lead off, and Ellsbury replaced him on a fielder’s choice. That worked well for the Sox when Ellsbury stole second with Pedroia batting. Pedroia rolled a single up the middle, which scored Ellsbury from second. Brandon League is warming in the Jays bullpen.
LESTER ROLLING (8:39, MID 5, 4-0 SOX)
Lester seemed on his way to his first 1-2-3 inning, breezing through Scutaro (grounder to first) and Hill (grounder to short). Rios ripped a single to left, though. He never made it second, as Wells grounded weakly to Pedroia. Lester has thrown more than 80 pitches and allowed seven hits in five shutout innings.
LUCKY SEVEN (8:36, END 4, 4-0 SOX)
Ray needed only seven pitches to retire Drew and Lowell on groundouts and Varitek on a strike out. The Red Sox have been out-hit by the Jays, 6-4, despite their four-run lead.
DOUBLED UP (8:29, MID 4, 4-0 SOX)
Lester escaped another uneven inning without allowing a run. Rolen led off with a walk, the first Lester issued tonight. Millar popped up to center. Barajas nailed a single on a curveball to left. Bautista follwed with a double play ball, extricating Lester once more. He has stranded a runner at second in all four innings.
K BAY (8:16, END 3, 4-0 SOX)
Bay struck out swinging to end the inning.
SOX ADD ON (8:14, BOT 3, 4-0 SOX)
Pedroia smacked a ball off the Wall in left-center, hard enough that he had to really run to make second. Wells fired in a throw to Hill, who tried to slap a tag on Pedroia. The throw arrived in time, but Pedroia pulled his right arm close to his body and reached into the bag with his left, avoiding Hill’s tag. He went to third on a groundout by Ortiz, and he came home on an RBI single by Youkilis.
And a correction from earlier: Carlos Pena has 14 homers, so Bay is second in the AL. Apologies. Bay is batting now; let’s see if it ties it this at-bat.
LESTER STRANDS ANOTHER (8:06, MID 3, 3-0 SOX)
Hill struck out looking at a 95-mph fastball at his knees and possibly inside. Rios squibbed a fastball, the first pitch he saw, to second. Wells didn’t let Lester have an easy inning, crushing a ball over Ellsbury’s that skipped off the base off the wall in dead center. Lester rebounded with his third strikout of the night, getting Lind to swing through a 95-mph fastball down the middle.
Lester’s pitch count is up over 50, and he has stranded a runner in scoring in position each inning, and five runners total.
EASY DOES IT (7:56, END 2, 3-0 SOX)
After a trying first, Ray had an easy second. Mike Lowell struck out looking at an inside, 3-2 fastball. Jason Varitek grounded to first. Lugo tapped back to Ray.
TWO MORE HITS, NO MORE RUNS (7:47, TOP 2, 3-0 SOX)
Lester allowed a one-out, soft single to center by Millar, and Jose Bautista extended the inning with a two-out, hard single to right. In between, Scott Rolen grounded to short, where Lugo made a solid backhanded play. Rod Barajas flied to left. Lester started Scutaro with a fastball on the outside corner, then threw a cutter in the same spot. Scutaro grounded it weakly to the right side. Lester, who has used 36 pitches, has allowed four singles but no runs in two innings.
BAY’S BLAST (7:38, END 1, 3-0 SOX)
Youkilis worked a lengthy walk, which brought Jason Bay to the plate. Bay rocked a ball to deep right-center, and Rios gave chase. The ball knocked off the top of the wall and bounced over the Red Sox bullpen for Bay’s 13th home run of the season, which ties him for the American League lead. It was also his 11th straight home run without hitting a solo home run, which is a Red Sox record, and an awfully weired one at that.
J.D. Drew stuck out, ending the inning after Jays starter had thrown more than 30 pitches.
ELLSBURY STREAKS, SCORES (7:29, BOT 1, 1-0 SOX)
Jacoby Ellsbury wasted no time extending his hitting streak to 16 games. He ripped a double down the first base line, which Kevin Millar dove for but couldn’t stop. Ellsbury bolted to third on Dustin Pedroia’s ground out to shortstop, and he scored on David Ortiz’s weak chopper to the right side. Two outs, no one on, Kevin Youkilis batting.
NOT EASY FOR LESTER (7:21, MID 1, 0-0)
The Blue Jays hit Jon Lester pretty hard, but he escaped without allowing a run. After a leadoff single to Marco Scutaro, Aaron Hill struck out swinging at a curveball. During an at-bat against Alex Rios, Rios called time late and Lester started his motion. He released the ball and threw it halfway to the press box, which drew an “Ohhh!” from the crowd. Two pitches later, Rios lined to left. Vernon Wells ripped a line drive to left-center to put two on with two outs. Adam Lind hit a soft flare to short, where Julio Lugo made a catch to end the inning.