Pedro Ciriaco drove in Jarrod Saltalamacchia with the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth inning as the Boston Red Sox defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 3-2 on Saturday afternoon at Rogers Centre.
Saltalamacchia opened the inning with a double and moved to third when Mike Aviles hit a sacrifice fly to centre field. Ciriaco later lashed a Steve Delabar pitch to the wall in left field to easily score Saltalamacchia from third base.
It was the second straight game that Boston (66-80) used a ninth-inning rally to beat Toronto (65-79). The Red Sox scored three runs in the ninth on Friday night for an 8-5 win in the opener of the three-game series.
Toronto starter Carlos Villanueva and Boston’s Clay Buchholz both turned in solid efforts but neither recorded a decision. Craig Breslow (1-0) worked one inning of relief for the win and Andrew Bailey pitched the ninth for his fourth save.
Delabar (4-2) absorbed the loss.
Yunel Escobar drove in Edwin Encarnacion with the game’s opening run in the first inning. Escobar hit a sharp single to right-fielder Cody Ross, who made a solid throw to home plate to get Adam Lind in plenty of time.
Ross came through again the next inning with a solo home run to pull the Red Sox even.
The Blue Jays threatened in the bottom half of the frame with runners on the corners. Rajai Davis hit a drive to deep left field but left-fielder Daniel Nava made a brilliant running catch against the wall for the final out.
Boston took a 2-1 lead in the fourth when Saltalamacchia looped a single into centre field, easily scoring Ross from third base. Villanueva escaped further damage by getting Ryan Lavarnway to ground out with two men on base.
Jays centre-fielder Anthony Gose used his blazing speed to his advantage in the fifth. He legged out an infield single, stole second and moved to third when Brett Lawrie of Langley, B.C., laid down a nice bunt on the first-base line side.
Gose scored on Lind’s sacrifice fly to shallow centre field. Boston outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury was charged with an error after throwing the ball well wide of home plate.
The runners advanced on the play but Escobar hit a weak grounder to end the threat. Boston had a runner on third in the seventh inning but Villanueva fanned Aviles to prevent the Red Sox from pulling ahead.
Boston loaded the bases in the eighth inning on three walks.
Delabar threw three balls to Ross before striking him out. James Loney popped up to second base for the third out.
A decent crowd of 27,325 was in attendance, not a bad number considering both teams played several late-season callups and are battling to stay out of the American League East Division basement.
Notes: Villanueva got a nice ovation while walking to the dugout after being pulled in the eighth inning. He raised his hat to the cheering fans. ... The Blue Jays will send right-hander Brandon Morrow (8-6) to the mound in Sunday’s series finale. The Red Sox will counter with southpaw Jon Lester (9-11). ... The roof remained open throughout the game even though dark clouds hovered in the area throughout the afternoon. ... Boston is just 13-29 since Aug. 1.