Blue Jays beat Red Sox to halt skid at 9
With some good pitching and timely hitting, the Toronto Blue Jays finally got back in the win column.
Scott Rolen and Rod Barajas each had two RBIs, right-hander Casey Janssen won for the first time in more than two years and Toronto snapped a nine-game losing streak with a 6-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Friday night.
The Blue Jays returned home after losing all nine games on a three-city trip to Boston, Atlanta and Baltimore that dropped them from first to third in the AL East. Toronto won its fifth straight at Rogers Centre, where it is 17-6 overall, and ended a four-game skid against Boston.
"It's a relief to finally get (a win)," Janssen said. "Against Boston, it's big for us."
Things might have gone differently had slumping Red Sox slugger David Ortiz got any more of the ball on a first-inning, bases-loaded drive to center. Vernon Wells turned Boston away empty-handed with a warning-track catch.
"I can't swing the bat better than that," Ortiz said. "Things just aren't happening. Where you hit the ball, you have no control over that. You have to wait for the ball to go somewhere nobody's at. They get paid to catch it. I get paid to hit it."
Wells, a two-time Gold Glove winner, guessed Ortiz's drive didn't have enough to clear the fence.
"I knew he got under it but I figured it was going to stay in the park," Wells said. "It was just a matter of getting back there and catching it."
It still made for a nervous moment for Janssen.
"I thought it was staying in and then Vernon started drifting back and I didn't know," Janssen said. "Then I was just hoping."
Batting sixth for the fourth straight game, Ortiz finished 0 for 4, dropping his average to .189. After his near-miss in the first, Ortiz lined to first in the third, popped to center in the fifth and flied to left in the eighth.
"All I can do about myself right now is laugh because I ain't gonna cry," Ortiz said. "Laugh, keep on swinging and wait for the good luck charm to show up, because there's nothing else I can do."
Janssen (1-1), who missed the 2008 season after shoulder surgery, started for the second time since being called up from Triple-A Las Vegas last Friday. He allowed three runs and 11 hits in seven innings to win for the first time since May 24, 2007, at Baltimore. He walked two and struck out two.
Janssen said he couldn't remember his last win and acknowledged feeling as "jumpy and excited" as a rookie.
"It's been a while," Janssen said. "It's good to be back. Hopefully I can calm down a little bit now. I was a little excited to be back and be pitching against a rival."
Brandon League worked a perfect eighth and Scott Downs closed it out for his sixth save in seven opportunities.
The loser was Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield (6-3), who allowed six runs and nine hits in 4 2-3 innings, matching his shortest outing this season. He walked four and struck out five.
Jacoby Ellsbury gave the Red Sox a 1-0 lead in the second with an RBI double down the line in right but Rolen tied it with an RBI double in the third. Ellsbury restored Boston's lead with a run-scoring single in the fourth.
Toronto ended Wakefield's night with a five-run fifth, doing all its damage with two outs. Rolen started the rally with an RBI double over the head of Jason Bay in left, Kevin Millar walked, Lyle Overbay scored Rolen with a double to right, Barajas hit a two-run single and Marco Scutaro chased Wakefield with an RBI double over Ellsbury in center.
"I didn't have a clean inning today, which hurt," Wakefield said. "I got my pitch count up too high and then, in the fifth inning, I just couldn't make a pitch when I needed to."
J.D. Drew cut it to 6-3 with a solo homer to center in the seventh, his seventh.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona was feeling better Friday, a day after he was treated for high blood pressure following Boston's victory at Minnesota. Emergency personnel treated Francona in the clubhouse before the Red Sox left to catch their flight to Toronto. "The guy told me to relax," Francona said. "I said 'Are you (kidding) me? Do you watch this game?"' ... Boston OF Mark Kotsay (back) will play three more rehab games for Triple-A Pawtucket this weekend before being evaluated. ... Toronto voided its option on RHP Robert Ray (shoulder) and placed him on the 15-day disabled list. Ray was optioned to Triple-A last Friday. ... Toronto's Aaron Hill extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a first-inning single. ... Boston RHP Daniel Bard struck out five in 2 1-3 scoreless innings of relief.