BOSTON – Leave it to A.J. Burnett, who seems to do no wrong against the Red Sox, to help the Toronto Blue Jays cap a miserable road trip with a win.
Burnett scattered three hits pitching into the eighth inning and Alex Rios homered to lift the Blue Jays to a 3-0 victory over Boston on Thursday night.
“I think as the game went on, he got stronger and stronger,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “We only came out with one win in the series, but we pitched so good.”
Toronto finished the nine-game trip at 2-7 and avoided a sweep after Boston had won the two previous games in the last at-bat. The Red Sox and Blue Jays combined for seven total runs in the series.
“You saw six starting pitchers all throw the ball extremely well,” Red Sox catcher Kevin Cash said. “We were happy to come out of the series with two wins.”
Burnett (3-2) continued his mastery of the Red Sox, improving to 4-0 against Boston while allowing just one run in 16 innings over two starts at Fenway Park. Burnett struck out five and walked five in 7 2-3 innings.
“My fastball was going everywhere tonight, which is a good thing,” Burnett said. “Just a good ‘W’ for us to get back on track.”
Jesse Carlson worked the eighth and B.J. Ryan pitched the ninth for his third save.
Scott Rolen’s two-out RBI single off Red Sox starter Tim Wakefield (2-1) gave Toronto a 1-0 lead in the third inning and ended a 17-inning shutout streak by Boston starters.
After wasting a bases-loaded opportunity in the fourth, the Blue Jays missed another chance to break the game open in the fifth.
With Rolen and David Eckstein on first and second, Matt Stairs singled off the wall and the ball bounced directly into the glove of Coco Crisp, whose quick relay caught Eckstein in a rundown between third and home. Vernon Wells followed with a sacrifice fly to salvage a run.
Boston threatened in the fourth when David Ortiz singled and Manny Ramirez walked to start the inning, but Mike Lowell flied to left and Aaron Hill made a diving grab of a line drive up the middle off the bat of Brandon Moss, doubling Ortiz off second base.
“We saw some good pitching and we didn’t have much to show for it,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.
Rios capped the scoring with his third homer of the season for Toronto, which avoided tying the Texas Rangers for the worst record in the American League.
Wakefield lost for the first time in seven starts after giving up three runs and six hits in seven innings. The knuckleballer walked four and didn’t record a strikeout.
“I didn’t have the command I would like to have,” Wakefield said. “You’ve got to tip your cap to A.J., though, because he did a great job for them.”
Gibbons was ejected in the bottom of the ninth after Crisp appeared to fly out to end the game. The manager was upset that second base umpire Bruce Dreckman called a balk on Ryan, giving Crisp another chance. He singled two pitches later, but Jed Lowrie struck out to end it.
Notes: Boston has won eight of eleven games at home. … J.D. Drew missed his second straight game with tightness in his left thigh and is listed as day-to-day. … Rolen extended his hitting streak to six games since coming off the disabled list. … Dustin Pedroia went 0-for-11 in the series. … Rios had three hits. … Toronto has beaten Boston eight of the last ten games.