Red Sox closer to AL East title with win over Jays
BOSTON — Rick Porcello wasn’t great Wednesday night, but he pitched well enough to put the Boston Red Sox on the doorstep of their second consecutive American League East title.
Porcello tossed 5 2/3 serviceable innings of five-run ball, and the Red Sox bats picked him up en route to a 10-7 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park.
“Tonight after a rough start to the ballgame, he settled down just enough and the offense covered it,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Porcello.
Boston (92-66) maintained its three-game lead over the second-place Yankees atop the East. New York defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 6-1 on Wednesday, leaving the Red Sox’s magic number to clinch the division at two.
Xander Bogaerts hit a three-run homer and finished with four RBIs, and Hanley Ramirez and Mitch Moreland each added solo shots for the Red Sox.
Jackie Bradley Jr., Dustin Pedroia and Rajai Davis also had one RBI apiece for Boston.
Jose Bautista and Teoscar Hernandez each cranked two-run homers, Darwin Barney slugged a solo shot, and Justin Smoak and Kendrys Morales each had one RBI as Toronto (75-84) saw its three-game winning streak end.
“We hung in there, we scored some runs,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “We just couldn’t stop them.”
The Blue Jays won 6-4 in Monday’s series opener and 9-4 on Tuesday.
“Their offense is potent,” Farrell said. “We’ve seen it in this series particularly, but we had enough tonight to get back in the win column.”
Porcello, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, allowed seven hits with two walks and eight strikeouts while making his career-high 33rd start of the season.
“Gave up three in the first, definitely not the way you want to start it (the game), and they tacked on two more,” Porcello said. “Thank God our offense swung the bats the way they did and put up those runs.”
Porcello (11-17) served up two home runs, tying a Red Sox record for the most games with multiple home runs allowed in a season at 11.
Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada (10-9) exited after 2 1/3 innings, allowing eight runs (seven earned), nine hits and a walk with two strikeouts.
“I didn’t think his stuff was that bad,” Gibbons said of Estrada. “... Just wasn’t his night.”
Estrada had held the Red Sox to two earned runs in 17 1/3 innings in three previous starts this season.
“The nights that he’s on, he’s really, really tough. If he’s off a bit, he’s going to give up some home runs because he’s a fly ball guy,” Gibbons said. “You can’t reinvent anything (with him).”
The Red Sox turned to ace left-hander David Price, who was converted to the bullpen for the stretch run, in relief of Porcello with two outs in the sixth. Price tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings with three strikeouts.
“I think it’s a great move for them. I think he’ll be a weapon for them out there,” Gibbons said of Price, who pitched for Toronto in 2015. “He looked really good today.”
Moreland padded the Boston lead with his one-out homer in the seventh.
Hernandez made a dent in the Red Sox’s lead with his two-run blast over the Monster in left with two outs in the ninth. He has six homers in his past six games and eight on the season.
“Teoscar, shoot he hit another one tonight,” Gibbons said.
Boston used a three-run second and a five-run third to erase an early 3-0 deficit and take a 9-5 lead.
The Red Sox’s third-inning barrage was highlighted by Bogaerts’ three-run blast, which sailed an estimated 437 feet over the Green Monster in left.
Ramirez’s homer was a whopper too, traveling approximately 473 feet, well over the Monster in the second.
Bautista hit his homer into the Monster seats during Toronto’s three-run first. Barney also sent a ball over the Monster seats with his shot in the fourth.
NOTES: Boston RF Mookie Betts (left wrist inflammation/right thumb bone bruise) was not in the lineup but was available as a pinch hitter. Rajai Davis started in right field. INF/OF Eduardo Nunez (sprained right knee) missed his second straight game. ... Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia returned and hit second in the lineup after a two-game absence because of swelling in his left knee. “I feel good, ready to go,” Pedroia said. “I like playing baseball.” ... Toronto was denied its first sweep of Boston since a three-game series from June 12-14, 2015 at Fenway Park. ... Red Sox LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (6-6, 3.91 ERA) opposes Houston Astros RHP Brad Peacock (12-2, 2.98) on Thursday to open a four-game series. Blue Jays RHP Joe Biagini (3-12, 5.34) faces the New York Yankees on Friday to open a three-game set.