BOSTON – The Sox pulled out a 7-5 win over the Blue Jays Friday night at Fenway Park, their second in as many days over their division foes. But, it was not easy, despite the five-run lead they had built after three innings.
Allen Webster started, going six innings giving up four runs on six hit and two walks with three strikeouts and a wild pitch. He lowered his ERA from 11.25 to 9.50 in the outing, his fourth start this season, and was in line for a win. It would have been his first big league win. Instead he took a no-decision.
Andrew Bailey relieved Webster, and after striking out Jose Reyes and Jose Bautista to open the seventh, gave up a game-tying home run to Edwin Encarnacion, his 23rd of the season. Encarnacion crushed a 1-and-0 94-mph fastball into the bleachers in straightaway center field. It was the seventh home run Bailey, the erstwhile Sox closer has given up this season, and the fifth in his last seven outings, spanning five innings. In that stretch, Bailey has allowed nine runs on 11 hits and five walks with five strikeouts for a 16.20 ERA.
Webster, who has struggled in the first innings of his outings this season, needed just 10 pitches, six strikes, to get through a perfect first inning. He ran into some trouble in the fifth when the Jays scored three runs, sending seven batters to the plate. Maicer Izturis led off with a single followed by a walk to Jays No. 9 hitter Emilio Bonifacio. After Jose Reyes grounded into a fielder’s choice, Bautista singled, scoring Izturis and Encarnacion singled to score Bonifacio. Adam Lind’s sacrifice fly scored Bautista for the third run of the inning.
Toronto got another run off Webster in the sixth when Rajai led off with a single and stole second, taking third on JP Arencibia’s ground out and scoring on Izturis’ sacrifice fly.
The Sox got two runs in the seventh. Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia led off with singles off Jays reliever Neil Wagner. After David Ortiz was called out on strikes, Mike Napoli walked to load the bases. Jonny Gomes, pinch-hitting for Daniel Nava, laced a single into left to score Victorino, ending Wagner’s night. Darren Oliver entered and walked Jarrod Saltalamacchia to score Pedroia, giving the Sox a 7-5 lead.
Andrew Miller, who relieved Bailey and went 1 1/3 scoreless innings, got the win, improving to 1-2.
Koji Uehara pitched a perfect ninth, with two strikeouts, for his third save in as many games, and fourth total this season.
Jays starter Josh Johnson went 3 1/3 innings, giving up five runs on eight hits and two walks (one intentional) with five strikeouts. Wagner took the loss, going two-thirds of an inning, giving up two runs on three hits.
STAR OF THE GAME: Jonny Gomes
Gomes’ pinch-hit RBI single in the seventh inning gave the Sox the lead, after the Blue Jays had tied the game in the top of the inning. Gomes has reached in seven of 15 plate appearances as a pinch-hitter this season, going 4-for-12 (.333) with a double, two home runs, three RBI, a walk, getting hit by a pitch twice, and scoring five runs.
HONORABLE MENTION: Allen Webster
Making his fourth big league start this season, Webster went six innings, giving up four runs on six hits and two walks with three strikeouts, taking a no-decision. But Webster, who has struggled in the first inning this season – entering the game having given up nine of his 16 runs in the first inning – pitched a perfect first, needing just 10 pitches, six strikes, to get through the frame, with one strikeout. He did not allow a run over his first four innings.
THE GOAT: Neil Wagner
After the Blue Jays tied the game in the top of the seventh, Wagner allowed the Sox to go ahead in the bottom of the inning. He went two-thirds of an inning, giving up two runs on three hits, taking the loss as his record fell to 1-2.
THE TURNING POINT:
After the Jays tied the score in the top of the seventh, Wagner allowed the first two batters he faced in the bottom of the inning to reach base, as Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia both singled. Both came around to score, representing the difference in the game.
BY THE NUMBERS:
With the win, the Sox are a season-high 16 games over .500, at 49-33. It is the most they have been above .500 since the end of the 2011 season, when they were 18 games over.
QUOTE OF NOTE:
“I’m a grinder. I’m willing to take one off the neck for the team.” – Jonny Gomes, on his approach at the plate