Red Sox come alive late, beat Blue Jays, 5-1

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Red Sox come alive late, beat Blue Jays, 5-1

BOSTON It quickly appeared Daisuke Matsuzakas fourth start of the season would go the way of his previous start when he threw 33 pitches in the first inning against the Marlins, facing seven batters and allowing three of them to score.

But although Matsuzaka got off to a rough start Tuesday night, he eventually settled down -- and the offense woke up -- as they topped the Blue Jays, 5-1.

Matsuzaka allowed three of the first four batters he faced to reach base. Brett Lawrie led off with a 3-2 double to left, Colby Rasmus reached on 3-1 fielders choice, with Lawrie taking third. After Jose Bautista popped out on a 3-1 pitch to catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia in foul territory, Edwin Encarnacion singled to Will Middlebrooks at third base on the first pitch, scoring Lawrie.

After that, he held the Blue Jays scoreless for the rest of his outing, giving way to Scott Atchison with two outs and two on the sixth. Atchison needed just two pitches to get out of the inning.

Matsuzaka went 5 23 innings, giving up one run on six hits and walk with five strikeouts. He threw 100 pitches, 60 for strikes, but was not involved in the decision.

The Sox batters, meanwhile, could do little with left-hander Aaron Laffey, who was making his first start since July 19, 2010, for the Indians. He had made 55 combined appearances in the interim for the Indians, the Mariners and Yankees in 2011, and the Blue Jays this season. So, they just waited for the game to get turned over to the Toronto bullpen in the seventh.

The Sox scored five runs on six hits off four Toronto relievers in the seventh and eighth innings. The barrage was bookended by Jarrod Saltalamacchias two-out solo home run off Jason Frasor to tie the game in the seventh and Will Middlebrooks sacrifice fly in the eighth.

Andrew Miller earned the win, pitching one-third of an inning, improving his record to 2-0 with a 2.12 ERA.

Alfredo Aceves earned his 19th save in 22 opportunities with a scoreless ninth.

Luis Perez took the loss for Toronto.

First impressions: Royals' five-run first inning dooms Red Sox in 6-3 loss

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First impressions: Royals' five-run first inning dooms Red Sox in 6-3 loss

First impressions from the Red Sox' 6-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals:

 

Steven Wright recovered nicely after the first inning, but the damage was done.

Wright's last five innings featured just three hits allowed -- one in the infield. But the first inning did the Red Sox in -- two walks followed by a three-run homer, then a single and a two-run homer.

Whether this was a matter of rust for Wright -- who last pitched three weeks ago Friday night -- or an early inability to command his knuckleball is uncertain.

The fact is, Wright dug an early hole for his teammates, and he had the misfortune to do so against a team with the best bullpen in baseball.

To his credit, Wright kept the game somewhat within reach thereafter, but the five-run head start proved too much of a jump.

 

It's time to worry a little about Jackie Bradley.

Bradley was just 7-for-40 in the just-completed road trip, and things didn't get any better on the first night of the homestand.

In the first, he came up with two on and two out and struck out swinging to strand both baserunners. In the third, he came to the plate with runners on the corners and, again, struck out swinging.

We're seeing the same kind of slump that Bradley fell into in previous seasons, where even contact is hard to find, with nine strikeouts in the last 16 at-bats.

Problem is, with Andrew Benitendi on the DL, there aren't a lot of options for John Farrell with the Red Sox outfield.

 

Trying to get Fernando Abad and Junichi Tazawa back on track in low- leverage mop-up didn't work.

Tazawa had a perfect seventh, but gave up a monster shot into the center field bleachers to Lorenzo Cain to start the eighth.

Abad entered, and while he did record a couple of strikeouts, also gave up a single, a walk and threw a wild pitches before he could complete the inning.

Getting some work for the two was the right idea, given that the Sox were down by three runs at the time. A good outing might help either regain some confidence and turn the corner.

But not even that could be accomplished Friday night.