Rajai Davis's speed was the undoing of the Boston Red Sox.
Davis led off the 10th inning with a double and then scored on Brett Lawrie's hard hit to shortstop Stephen Drew as the Toronto Blue Jays snapped a three-game slide with a 4-3 win on Wednesday over Boston.
"I was just looking to put it in play because I knew (Davis) was at third base and any ball you can put in play you know he's going to have a good chance to score," said Lawrie. "I choked up a bit and just tried to put it in play as best I could and ended up stinging it better than I thought I was going to."
It was the second time in the game where Davis's speed on the basepaths earned Toronto (55-65) a run. The centre-fielder opened scoring in the third when he hit a sharp single to Boston's Jon Lester, where the pitcher fumbled the ball.
Lester's throw to first went past Mike Napoli, letting Davis round second. Boston right-fielder Shane Victorino threw to third but the ball bounced off Davis and into foul territory, allowing the speedy Blue Jay to sprint home.
"I was hoping I could just get to first. They made an errant throw and after that I just went to run," said Davis. "Honestly, I didn't know where the ball was. I heard our third-base coach (Luis) Rivera saying 'go, go, go!'
"'OK, I'm gone."'
Lester said that Davis's speed can generate errors because it makes defences hurry.
"Obviously his speed makes you rush a little bit," the Red Sox starter said. "It would have been nice to keep him on third right there. The ball takes a bad hop and hits off him and scores the run."
Davis went 3-for-5 and Edwin Encarnacion hit two doubles and scored a run for the Blue Jays. Esmil Rogers (3-7) pitched six innings with six strikeouts, five hits and an earned run. Reliever Brett Cecil ruined Rogers' chance at a victory though, blowing Toronto's 3-1 lead in the ninth inning.
Brad Lincoln pitched an inning and a third in relief to earn the win for Toronto.
Rogers, who started the season in the bullpen, was likely going to return to reliever duties after Wednesday's start. His strong performance against the Red Sox earned him a reprieve, however.
"He was on the plate, he was making good pitches," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. "It all comes down to putting the ball in a good spot. He was popping it pretty good tonight too, keeping it down.
"We can't put him in the 'pen after that, can we?"
Designated hitter David Ortiz hit a home run for Boston (72-50), while Lester (10-7) gave up three runs — two earned — and fanned three hitters over six and a third innings of work.
Brandon Workman (3-2) pitched three innings for the Red Sox and took the loss.
Davis drew cheers when he led off the bottom of the 10th with his second double of the game. He then advanced to third base on Jose Bautista's groundout to short.
Workman intentionally walked Encarnacion to put runners on the corners. With Lawrie at the plate, Encarnacion stole second. Lawrie then hit a sharp single off Drew's glove to drive home Davis and end the game.
"Kind of unfortunate, I thought I had a bead on it and at the very end it started taking off on me," said Drew. "It hit the very end of the web. At first off the bat, I thought I might be able to catch it out of the air real quick, but there was no shot. "
The Blue Jays added to their 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth. Encarnacion hit a double up the third-base line and was driven in when Mark DeRosa hit a double to shallow right field.
Both teams stranded runners in scoring position in the fifth inning, maintaining the Blue Jays' 2-0 lead. Ortiz pulled Boston to within one on his home run to deep right field in the sixth inning.
Encarnacion hit a second double to lead off the bottom of the sixth, and Lawrie reached first after being hit by a pitch. Encarnacion was moved to third when DeRosa grounded into a double play. J.P. Arencibia then doubled off the left-field wall to make it 3-1 for Toronto.
Reliever Neil Wagner took the mound for the Blue Jays in the seventh, quickly retiring three Red Sox hitters.
Boston manager John Farrell pulled Lester in the seventh in favour of Workman, who was dialled in for his first two innings of work.
Wagner continued his efficient pitching in the eighth, retiring three Boston batters in quick succession. The right-handed pitcher threw two scoreless innings with three strikeouts.
Workman was also effective for the Red Sox, striking out Encarnacion and getting Lawrie to fly out to right field. Adam Lind pinch hit for DeRosa, drawing a walk. The inning ended when Arencibia struck out swinging.
Cecil took the mound in the ninth and his first out was gifted to him when Ortiz — not known for his speed — tried to beat out a defensive shift by bunting. The lumbering DH was thrown out at first by Arencibia.
Jonny Gomes reached base when he was hit by a pitch, but Cecil settled down to fan Drew. Napoli drove the ball over the right-field fence for a two-run shot and tied the game 3-3 with two out in the ninth.
Cecil unravelled after that, giving up a double to Jarrod Saltalamacchia with Will Middlebrooks reaching first after being hit by a pitch. Cecil was pulled in favour of Lincoln after giving up a single to Jacoby Ellsbury.
Lincoln got the Blue Jays out of the inning when Victorino flied out to left field.
Lincoln stayed on the mound for the 10th, with Pedroia reaching base on Lawrie's fielding error to start the inning. After Ortiz flew out to left, Lincoln struck out Gomes and got Napoli to ground out to third, setting the stage for Lawrie's game-winning hit.
Notes: Munenori Kawasaki and Kevin Pillar were called up from triple-A Buffalo to take the places of utility player Emilio Bonifacio and centre-fielder Colby Rasmus on the roster. Bonifacio was traded to Kansas City earlier in the day for a player to be named later or cash, while Rasmus was placed on the 15-day disabled list. Pillar went 0 for 4 in his major league debut.