TORONTO -- Most of the pregame attention centered on the return of John Farrell to the city where he managed for the previous two years. But once that was out of the way, the Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays staged a terrific battle in their first meeting of the season Friday night.
The Red Sox saw what had been a 4-1 lead slip away in the seventh when Jose Reyes (four hits) homered off Junichi Tazawa. But the Sox, who had squandered a handful of scoring chances, pulled ahead in the eighth on a walk to pinch-hitter Jonny Gomes, a double by Dustin Pedroia and an infield groundout by Mike Napoli, and got a ninth-inning home run from Will Middlebrooks to escape with a 6-4 victory at a nearly-full Rogers Centre.
The game was 1-1 when two errors by Emilio Bonafacio in the fourth led to one Red Sox run. A two-run belt by Napoli -- the first homer for the Red Sox this season -- in the fifth upped the Red Sox lead to three.
But Felix Doubront faltered in the fifth, allowing a solo homer to Mark DeRosa and a run-scoring double to Reyes as the Jays pulled to within a run.
Doubront (three runs on nine hits) lasted one batter into the sixth before being lifted.
Joel Hanrahan notched his second save in the ninth inning.
STAR OF THE GAME: Mike Napoli
Napoli smoked an opposite-field homer in the fifth for two runs, then delivered the tie-breaking run in the eighth on an infield groundout. His homer was the first by a Red Sox hitter this season.
HONORABLE MENTION: Will Middlebrooks.
Middlebrooks -- like Napoli -- started slowly in New York, in part because he battled the flu for the first two games. Lately, he's started to come alive at the plate. On Friday, he had a solo homer and rapped a double to center.
GOAT OF THE GAME: Emilio Bonifacio
Bonafacio committed three errors -- two on consecutive chances in the fourth inning that led directly to a Red Sox run -- and by the end of the night was being booed louder than John Farrell.
Matched against a right-hander thanks to a pitching change, pinch-hitter Jonny Gomes worked a walk with one out in the eighth and came around to score the tie-breaking run on Napoli's infield groundout.
BY THE NUMBERS: 26
Junichi Tazawa allowed a homer to Jose Reyes in the seventh, snapping a string of 26 straight appearances without allowing a home run.
QUOTE OF NOTE:
"If we can put ourself in position, with that many guys on base, we'll take it.'' -- John Farrell on a Red Sox win despite 15 stranded baserunners and being 2-for-19 with runners in scoring position.