TORONTO – Toronto starter Brett Cecil pitched well enough to win on Wednesday night. Unfortunately for him, Boston’s Jon Lester was even better.
The left-hander struck out 11 and allowed just one hit over seven innings as the Red Sox shut out the Blue Jays 2-0 to complete a three-game sweep of Toronto.
“He was a few pitches better than I was,” said Cecil (1-1), who went six innings, allowing five hits and one run.
“That guy’s a great pitcher. Hats off to him. He threw a great game.”
Darnell McDonald scored a run and drove in another for Boston (11-11) as the Red Sox sent the Blue Jays (10-12) to their fifth straight loss in front of 15,276 at Rogers Centre.
Toronto has lost nine of 12 and were shut out for the second time in four games. The Blue Jays have not scored in 17 innings.
“We shouldn’t have lost three games,” Toronto’s Aaron Hill said. “Yeah, they pitched good, but still, we’re better than that.”
Lester (1-2) helped the Red Sox win their sixth straight game in Toronto and sweep consecutive series of three games or more in this city for the first time since 1981 and 1982.
“Wow,” McDonald when asked about Lester’s outing. “It’s a beautiful thing to watch from centre field. It looked like he got better as the game went on.”
Jonathan Papelbon pitched the ninth for his seventh save.
“(Lester) pitched really well,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. “I think he ought to feel good about himself, he looks great.”
Wednesday was the second time in the series Toronto’s bats failed to match the effort on the mound. A night earlier, Shaun Marcum went seven innings and allowed just one run before the Boston got to the Blue Jays’ bullpen for a 2-1 win.
“I guess the only thing we can take out of it is hopefully our hitters know that if we can go out and get four or five runs, we have a chance to win with the way these guys are pitching,” said Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. “It’s just one of those things. We’re just not driving in any runs or getting any hits right now.”
McDonald led off the sixth with a double and Marco Scutaro singled him to third before Dustin Pedroia’s sacrifice fly put the Red Sox ahead 1-0.
“Cecil was pitching a good game really mixing up his pitches,” McDonald said. “So going up there I really wanted to try to get a good pitch to hit before he got to his other pitches.”
McDonald was at it again in the seventh as he drove in Boston’s second run with two-out single against Casey Janssen to score Adrian Beltre from third.
Daniel Bard replaced Lester to start the eighth and gave up a leadoff double to Alex Gonzalez, but recovered to strike out three successive left-handed pinch-hitters.
Before the game, Gaston said Hill is still hampered the hamstring injury that had him on the disabled list until last Friday.
“We don’t want him to blow it out,” said Gaston in explaining how the team is handling the injury. “He doesn’t complain about it but I’m just trying to co-ordinate it as far as not running him, make sure that (third base coach Brian) Butterfield doesn’t try to stretch him out in certain situations. We don’t want to lose him again.”
With the Blue Jays starting a left-hander in Cecil, Francona sat struggling David Ortiz and started Victor Martinez as the designated hitter in the three spot.
“It’s not an indictment,” Francona said. “We’re trying to win. Sometimes the bench you have determines what you do. We’re trying to do what we think is right for our ball club.”
Notes: Left-hander Rommie Lewis pitched the ninth for Toronto in his major-league debut. … With the Red Sox starting the left-handed Lester, Randy Ruiz had his fifth start of the season and his fourth start at designated hitter. … The Red Sox bought up left-handed reliever Alan Embree from triple-A Pawtucket and demoted Fabio Castro. … Mike McCoy started in left field as Adam Lind began the game on the bench. … The Oakland Athletics open a four-game series at the Rogers Centre Thursday with Justin Duchscherer (2-0, 1.82 earned-run average) starting against Ricky Romero (1-1, 1.80 ERA).