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Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale delivers a pitch during the first inning at Fenway Park on July 18, 2019.Charles Krupa/The Associated Press

That was a relief.

And not a bad start, either.

Chris Sale and two relievers combined on a two-hitter, and the Boston Red Sox left-hander struck out 12 in six innings to beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-0 on Thursday and earn his first regular-season win at Fenway Park in more than a year.

Sale (4-9) gave up both hits and walked two to earn his first victory anywhere in a month and his first at home since July 11, 2018 – a span of 14 starts.

“It’s good to see him win a game here, win a game at home – for whatever that means,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “But the way he did it is the most satisfying thing.”

It was Sale’s 11th game this season with 10 or more strikeouts. The seven-time all-star, who had allowed five runs in three straight starts for the first time in his career, had a 7.89 ERA in three previous appearances against Toronto this season.

“I’m obviously coming off three of the worst starts of my career,” said Sale, who had a dozen teammates watch his bullpen session on Tuesday, whether to help spot a flaw in his mechanics or just to show their support. “Good, bad or indifferent, I’m not out on an island.”

Marcus Walden pitched two hitless innings for the Red Sox and Darwinzon Hernandez struck out two in a perfect ninth to end it.

Rafael Devers hit a three-run homer off Thomas Pannone (2-4), who matched Sale into the fifth inning before giving up Sam Travis’s double and Sandy Leon’s RBI single. After Mookie Betts walked, Devers hit the first pitch out to right-centre to make it 4-0 and chase Pannone.

“You could tell early on that Chris Sale was on, and so there was no room for error,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “[Pannone] gave us a chance.”

Betts, who also hit a solo homer in the seventh, scored a run for the 13th consecutive game, tying Ted Williams’s franchise record.

Toronto’s next game is on Friday night in Detroit, when right-hander Marcus Stroman (5-10) faces Tigers right-hander Jordan Zimmerman (0-6).

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