BOSTON - The Boston Red Sox got drenched Monday night, but not with champagne.
On a night when they came to the ballpark with a chance to clinch a playoff berth, the Red Sox scratched ace Josh Beckett from his scheduled start and watched substitute Michael Bowden spot the Blue Jays seven runs in the first three innings en route to Toronto's rain-shortened 11-5 victory.
"We're in a pretty good place," Red Sox catcher Victor Martinez said. "Let's see what happens. We have to wait and come back tomorrow and play again."
It was the fourth straight loss for Boston, which could have clinched the AL wild card with a win and a Texas loss. The Rangers lost 11-0 to the Los Angeles Angels later Monday night, leaving the Red Sox six games ahead in the wild card with six to play.
Torrential rain suddenly began falling in the bottom of the seventh, when the Red Sox had one run in and two men on with nobody out in the seventh.
The game was called after a delay of 62 minutes.
And the champagne was left in storage for another night.
Boston will have a chance to earn the playoff berth Tuesday, when Clay Buchholz faces Toronto's Ricky Romero.
"It's inexcusable," said Bowden, who did not blame the short notice for his struggles. "They could have told me at 7:05 and I should have been able to put forth a better effort than I did tonight. It's just a terrible feeling, going out there and letting the team down and giving up that many runs so early."
Jose Bautista, Aaron Hill and Rod Barajas homered for the Blue Jays, and Scott Richmond (8-10) of North Vancouver won his second consecutive start after going 0-6 in his previous 10.
"I'm trying to finish strong. I've never been in a slump like this before," said Richmond, who gave up four runs on six hits and two walks, striking out three in six innings. "After I got all those runs, it was just plain and simple: pound the zone."
Toronto won its fourth straight game, matching its longest winning streak of the season. The Blue Jays had lost six straight to the Red Sox and eight in a row at Fenway Park.
"It's nice to get a win here, finally," manager Cito Gaston said. "I've always thought it's tough to manage here, too. You never know when you have enough runs for this place because before you know it, you turn around (and it's going) the other way."
Kevin Youkilis homered twice, and David Ortiz hit one for Boston. The Red Sox cut the deficit to 11-5 on Dustin Pedroia's RBI double right before the rain started.
"It looked like we were going to continue to swing the bats," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "But we also got ourselves into a position where ... we didn't want to be in."
Beckett had been scheduled to make his second-to-last start of the regular season, but he was scratched after complaining of back spasms. Francona said he was still expecting the right-hander to pitch Saturday.
So the Red Sox turned to Bowden, who was making the second major league start of his career. He got one quick out before Hill homered and then the next four batters hit safely to give Toronto a 4-0 lead. Youkilis hit a two-run shot in the bottom half, but Barajas hit a three-run homer in the third to make it 7-2.
Bowden (0-1) did not come out for the fourth inning. In all, he allowed seven runs on seven hits and a walk, striking out three.
"The hope, especially with a young guy, is he'll take it and run with it and everybody will have a great night," Francona said. "This was kind of the flip side."
Notes: Martinez, whose 25-game hitting streak was snapped Sunday in a pinch-hit appearance, singled in the first inning. ... Boston called up LHP Dustin Richardson from triple-A Pawtucket and designated OF Chris Carter for assignment. ... The Red Sox honoured former SS and manager Johnny Pesky a day after his 90th birthday. He threw out the first pitch and swung a fungo bat from the mound. ... Youkilis was 6-for-39 in his last 10 games before homering in his first two at-bats. It was the ninth two-homer game of his career, and fourth this season.
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