Darnell McDonald hasn’t had much luck with his health or his hitting this season.
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The Red Sox left-fielder was feeling fine Tuesday night when he ended the game by throwing out Edwin Encarnacion at the plate on a disputed call as Boston held on for a 3-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
Jason Varitek caught the ball then hurried off the field after umpire Brian Knight’s out call.
”The play was Jason blocking the plate there and getting the tag down,” McDonald said. ”He did a great job.”
Toronto manager John Farrell didn’t think so.
”We should still be playing,” Farrell said after seeing the replay. ”That play is right in front of Brian Knight. It was clear that Edwin did a good job sliding around the plant leg of Tek. His swipe tag missed him by no less than a foot.”
For McDonald, it was a rare highlight in a rough season.
He was on the disabled list from May 26 to June 14 with a strained left quadriceps and is just 8 for 64 in 35 games. He’s filled in recently in left field while Carl Crawford spends time on the disabled list with a strained hamstring.
”It’s been very tough,” McDonald said. ”I want to do things to help the team. Obviously, I haven’t been effective at the plate. It’s a long season. … When you’re not hitting, defense has to be on point.”
Brett Cecil (1-4) went all the way for Toronto, giving up two runs in the second on an RBI double by Varitek and a run-scoring single by J.D. Drew and one in the third on Dustin Pedroia’s eighth homer of the year.
Toronto had just two hits through eight innings before Corey Patterson led off the ninth with a single off Jonathan Papelbon and Jose Bautista followed with his major league-leading 28th homer.
A single by Encarnacion and a walk to J.P. Arencibia put runners at first and second with two outs. John McDonald then looped a single that Darnell McDonald charged and, on the run, fired the ball on the fly to Varitek, who blocked the plate with his left leg. Knight looked closely, then raised his right hand for the out sign.
”Tek deserves a save,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. ”He’s as good at that (as) anybody in the game. That’s a good baseball play. He stuck that stump in there and didn’t let him get to the plate. Mac made a great throw. It certainly wasn’t the way we drew it up, but it’s a heck of a way to end the game.”
Did John McDonald see the replay?
”Does it make a difference?” he said. ”We’re sitting in here right now getting ready for Wednesday’s series finale.”
Papelbon got his 18th save in 19 chances while Matt Albers (3-3) picked up the win.
Boston starter Jon Lester allowed no hits in four innings before leaving with a strained muscle on the left side of his back. Francona said it had been bothering Lester the entire inning and further examination would be done on Wednesday.
Albers worked two scoreless innings and gave up Toronto’s first hit, a two-out single by Bautista in the sixth.
Franklin Morales and Daniel Bard each pitched a scoreless inning before Papelbon got into – and out of – a jam.
”To not give up today, get a few runs, get a few more guys on base against an excellent closer says a lot about our club,” John McDonald said.
The Red Sox ended a three-game home losing streak and won for the fifth time in its last six games overall.
They went up 2-0 in the second when David Ortiz led off with a double, took third on a groundout and scored on Varitek’s double. Drew then hit a hard shot into the hole between first and second that went off the foot of second baseman Mike McCoy for a single.
Cecil set down the first two batters in the third. Then Pedroia, batting fourth while Kevin Youkilis sat out with a bruised back muscle, drove a 1-2 pitch over the left-field wall for his eighth homer.
The 5-foot-8 Pedroia hit fourth for only the second time this season and homered in each game. He first did it last Thursday when he went 1 for 5 in a 5-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. In his six career games batting cleanup, he is 13 for 26 with four homers.
”I see the Red Sox have been signing a whole bunch of little guys because they think they might find another Pedroia,” Ortiz joked. ”I doubt it. You don’t see that every day, man. He’s special.”
Lester started the game by striking out Rajai Davis, then got Patterson on a groundout before striking out Bautista. He added two strikeouts in the second against Encarnacion and Travis Snider.
Lester then walked Arencibia to start the third but set down the next three batters. He pitched a perfect fourth, ending the inning – and his night – by throwing a called third strike by Adam Lind.
NOTES: Bard has pitched 16 1-3 consecutive scoreless innings. … Bautista has reached base in 74 of his 79 games. … Boston sent OF Mike Cameron and cash to the Florida Marlins for a player to be named or cash. … Toronto’s season-high streak of homers reached 13 straight games. … Crawford could return before the All-Star break that begins Monday but probably wouldn’t play just Sunday, according Francona. … Boston RHP Clay Buchholz planned to fly Wednesday to North Carolina for a second opinion on a lower back strain that put him on the disabled list.