By Maureen Mullen
BOSTON -- On Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park, the Red Sox finally accomplished what they had been previously unable to do this season: Win consecutive games. With John Lester turning in another strong performance, the Sox beat the Blue Jays 8-1. The win improves their season record to 4-10.
Lester limited the Jays to one run in six innings (plus two batters in the seventh) on six hits and three walks with five strikeouts. He threw 110 pitches a season high with 65 strikes. While it was his third consecutive quality start, it was just his first win of the season, improving to 1-1 with a 3.20 ERA.
Jesse Litsch (1-1) took the loss for Toronto, going six innings, giving up six runs (four earned) on seven hits and a walk with five strikeouts.
The Jays took a brief lead in the second inning. Aaron Hill opened the frame with a walk , went to second on J.P. Arencibias single to right, and advanced to third on Travis Sniders double play. After Juan Rivera walked, with Jayson Nix at the plate, Rivera broke for second base, drawing a throw from catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. With Nix in a rundown, Hill crossed the plate before Nix was tagged.
In the bottom of the inning, consecutive one-out singles by Jed Lowrie, J.D. Drew, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia tied the score. Jacoby Ellsburys home run to right, put the Sox up, 4-1. It the teams first three-run homer of the season. Ellsbury now leads the Sox in home runs, with three, stolen bases (3), and is tied for the lead with three RBI (with David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez).
The Sox extended their lead in the sixth. With two outs Ortiz singled to center, Lowrie reached on Nixs error at third and Drew walked. Saltalamacchia single to right scored Ortiz and Lowrie, with Drew ending the inning getting thrown out at the plate. The three RBI are the most for Saltalamacchia since he tallied four on May 5, 2009, while with the Rangers.
The Sox added two runs in the eighth. Loading the bases with no outs, Lind could not handle Lowries grounder down the first-base line, scoring Gonzalez, who doubled to left-center, and Youkilis, who was hit by a pitch for the 70th time in his career (behind only Mo Vaughn with 71 all-time on the Red Sox list).
Lesters day was done after allowing an infield single toArencibia to open the seventh, and an error by Lowrie on Sniders grounder put two runners on. Daniel Bard, Felix Doubront, Bobby Jenks, and Dan Wheeler combined to hold the Jays scoreless the rest of the way.
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen.