The Toronto Blue Jays may have slipped into last place in the American League East, but Brett Lawrie says that’s not as bad as it sounds considering how tightly packed the division is.
“It’s just a number,” Lawrie said after the Blue Jays lost 7-4 to the Boston Red Sox on Saturday. “We’re not out by 10 games, we’re out like about three at the most. There’s plenty of baseball to be played.”
The Blue Jays dropped their second in a row to the Red Sox when left-hander Felix Doubront struck out seven in 6 1/3 innings and Daniel Nava’s two-run single keyed a four-run second inning.
Doubront (6-2) allowed three runs (two earned), seven hits and one walk in winning for the fifth time in his past six starts.
“I feel very good,” Doubront said. “Sometimes I felt like I couldn’t follow through all my pitches in the first inning but I started to make adjustments. Stay back, just throw the ball, don’t think too much.”
Home runs by Jose Bautista and Jeff Mathis accounted for two of the runs against Doubront.
“He (Doubront) does it in different ways,” Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. “Today he was able to win the game without having his best stuff. His one-ball, two-strike count wasn’t present today. He was behind hitters, getting three balls on hitters and still getting them out ... He figured out a way to keep us in the game and to win the game.”
Nick Punto hit his first homer of the season for Boston against Carlos Villanueva in the ninth and also doubled in a run in the second. Alfredo Aceves pitched the ninth for his 14th save.
Blue Jays starter Kyle Drabek (4-6) allowed five runs (four earned), six hits and four walks while striking out four in 6 2/3 innings. A couple of defensive lapses, including one of his own, hurt him.
“It was really just one pitch to each batter that I either left down the middle or in a good area for them to hit it,” Drabek said. “Except for the second inning I’m happy with it, I thought I was able to get some good strikes, quick innings and get our guys back in there.”
The Red Sox (28-25) have won 16 of their past 22 games and moved into fourth in the AL East ahead of Blue Jays (27-26).
After Jarrod Saltalamacchia walked with one out in the second, he took third on a two-out single by Ryan Sweeney and scored on a single by Will Middlebrooks.
Punto doubled home one run. And when Rasmus overran Nava’s sinking drive and could make the catch on tricky drive, two more runs scored.
“In the second inning they bunched some hits together,” Jays manager John Farrell said. “If we make a play on the sinking line drive it’s two-run game instead of a four-run game. I thought (Drabek) got in a better rhythm through the middle innings until he started to tire in the seventh inning.”
The Blue Jays countered with the third home run of the season by Mathis with one out in the third inning. They loaded the bases on three singles but Rasmus struck out to end the inning.
“There were some things defensively that we have been pretty sharp at that we didn’t quite come through today,” Farrell said. “I think more than anything the two-out hit was elusive.”
The Red Sox made that run up in the fourth. Kevin Youkilis led off with a double and took third when Bautista was charged with a throwing error from right. But the most damaging part of the play was Drabek failing to back up third base.
Sweeney walked and when Middlebrooks grounded into a double play, Youkilis scored.
The Blue Jays scored an unearned run in their half of the inning. Doubront was charged with an error on David Cooper’s two-out grounder, Mathis bunted for a hit and Kelly Johnson hit a run-scoring single.
Bautista led off the bottom of the fifth with his 13th homer of the season to cut the lead to 5-3.
But the Red Sox scored a run in the eighth against relievers Darren Oliver and Francisco Cordero. David Ortiz singled and Saltalamacchia walked against Oliver. Cordero walked Youkilis to load the bases.
Ortiz scored on a groundout by Sweeney.
The Blue Jays made that one back in the bottom of the eighth with an unearned run. Edwin Encarnacion singled against Matt Albers and scored from first when Sweeney booted the ball on Lawrie’s single to right against Vicente Padilla. The inning ended when Lawrie was caught trying to steal third.
“Brett’s trying to be aggressive, trying to force things a little bit with the two-out attempt at third base,” Farrell said. “He’s certainly an aggressive player. We’re not going to temper that. He’s got the green light but at the same time in situations we’ve got to shut him down. And that’s on me. That’s on no one else.”
Lawrie, from Langley, B.C., said he will remain aggressive but will try to be more aware of his surroundings.
“Not necessarily toning it down but just thinking about the situation at hand,” Lawrie said. “That might not necessarily be the best time to go but I thought that I could get there and it ended up he fell right in front of the bag and it cut off the way I wanted to slide. I thought I could have been in there if he hadn’t fallen like that.”
Notes: Attendance at Rogers Centre was 43,390. ...Blue Jays closer Sergio Santos (shoulder inflammation) started throwing off a mound in Dunedin, Fla., on Friday for the first time since going on the disabled list April 21. ....The Blue Jays claimed right-handed pitcher Chris Schwinden on waivers from the Mets on Saturday and designated for assignment right-hander Daniel Farquhar who has been with double-A New Hampshire. ....Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia took some batting practice Saturday for the first time since leaving Monday’s game in the fifth inning with a jammed right thumb. ....The Blue Jays send out Drew Hutchison (4-2, 4.84) to face Daniel Bard (5-5, 4.56) in Sunday’s series finale.