By Maureen Mullen
BOSTON Josh Beckett threw his second straight strong start, as the Red Sox beat the Blue Jays, 4-1, Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park. The win improves the Red Sox record to 3-10.
Beckett (2-1) went seven innings giving up one . The Blue Jays lone run off him came in the second inning, when Aaron Hill hit a one-out double and scored on Travis Sniders single to right field. After the second inning, Beckett allowed just three more base runners on a single and two walks with just one reaching second base.
The Red Sox jumped out to a two-run lead in the first inning. Jed Lowrie, appearing in the lead-off spot for the first time in his career, singled to deep shortstop. In 13 games this season, Lowries single was the first hit the Red Sox have gotten by a lead-off batter in the first plate appearance of a game. Dustin Pedroia followed that with a walk, with Lowrie scoring on Adrian Gonzalezs single to center. Kevin Youkilis double to right scored Pedroia, for a 2-0 lead. After David Ortizs walk, the Red Sox had the bases loaded with no outs but could do no more damage in the inning against Jays lefty-hander Jo-Jo Reyes. Mike Cameron and Jason Varitek both struck out and Darnell McDonald ended the inning with a groundball to second.
In the second, Lowries first home run of the season, scoring Jacoby Ellsbury who opened the inning with a walk, put the Sox up 4-1.
Daniel Bard relieved Beckett in the eighth. John McDonald opened the inning with a lead-off single, but was thrown out attempting to steal second, Jason Varitek connecting with Dustin Pedroia. It was the third time this season Red Sox catchers have thrown out a runner in 19 attempts. Bard then struck out Yunel Escobar and got Corey Patterson to ground out to Gonzalez.
Jonathan Papelbon pitched the ninth. With two outs Aaron Hill reached base on Kevin Youkilis' error and advanced to third on defensive indifference. But, Papelbon got Travis Snider to fly out to Mike Cameron in left, giving the Red Sox their third win of the season.
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen
CINCINNATI - Mitch Moreland ended his long slump with a three-run homer, Eduardo Rodriguez pitched three-hit ball into the eighth inning, and the Boston Red Sox took another step toward a second straight AL East title, beating the Cincinnati Reds 5-0 on Saturday.
Boston has won 13 of 16, holding off the Yankees as it tries to win back-to-back East titles for the first time since divisional realignment in 1969. The Red Sox have their best record of the season at 90-64, reaching 90 wins for the second year in a row.
They remain four games in front of the Yankees, who beat Toronto 5-1.
Moreland was in an 0-for-19 slump when he connected off Robert Stephenson (5-6) in the sixth inning, his 20th homer of the season but only his second in September. The Red Sox are last in the AL with 160 homers.
Rodriguez (6-6) has given up two or fewer earned runs in each of his last four starts, the best stretch of his career. The left-hander gave up three singles and two walks in 7 2/3 innings, his longest outing since May 21.
The Red Sox have shutout victories in three of their last four games, including two at Baltimore. They are 7-1 on a trip that ends Sunday. Boston wraps up the regular season at Fenway Park with three games against Toronto and four against Houston.
Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi, who grew up in suburban Madeira and had hundreds of relatives and friends in the stands for the series, singled home a run in the seventh at the ballpark where he regularly attended games as a youth.
Mookie Betts, who fouled a ball off his left foot Friday night, and Dustin Pedroia, who has been bothered by a knee injury almost all season, were out of the Red Sox lineup Saturday against the Reds in Cincinnati.
Chris Young started in right field for Betts and Brock Holt at second base for Pedroia.
Betts was scratched from the original lineup but was a late scratch. Pedroia, who had been getting intermittent days off to rest his knee was originally expected to play but needed treatement and hopes to be able to play Sunday, according to Scott Lauber of ESPN.
Manager John Farrell told reporters, including Christopher Smith of MassLive.com, that Betts "was hindered by it last night in the second half of that game. [He] woke up a little bit more sore. Went through treatment. But felt it was best to give him a day to fully recover and get some additional treatment."
The manager added that Betts was available to pinch hit Saturday and did not have X-rays, but that step could be taken if there's no improvement in the next 24 hours.