TORONTO (AP)—It was another rocky ninth inning for the Red Sox bullpen, but their new closer, Byung-Hyun Kim, handled the job.
Kim struck out Vernon Wells, Carlos Delgado and Eric Hinske in the ninth after allowing a leadoff double, and David Ortiz hit a go-ahead double in the top of the ninth as Boston rallied for an 8-7 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday.
Kim allowed Frank Catalanotto’s leadoff double, but bounced back to strike out Wells and then Delgado on a 3-2 pitch. After pinch-hitter Howie Clark was hit by a pitch, Hinske struck out looking on a 3-2 pitch.
It was Kim’s third save in three chances.
Boston manager Grady Little visited Kim before Delgado’s at-bat and talked about walking him intentionally with first base open and one out. But Kim wouldn’t have it.
“I knew that he was the best hitter for Toronto. It was a situation where you probably needed to walk him, but as a closer I wanted to face him,” Kim said through an interpreter. “It was situation where I needed to challenge him.”
Little wasn’t about to order Kim to walk Delgado.
“With aggressiveness in his face and in his tone of voice I knew we were in for a contest, and that’s exactly what it was,” Little said. “It was one of those classic confrontations you see throughout a season.”
Catcher Doug Mirabelli said he’s thrilled to have Kim as the closer.
“He’s so confident he almost has an arrogance, and that’s what you want on the mound,” Mirabelli said.
Manny Ramirez led off the ninth with a long fly to left-center, and left fielder Shannon Stewart nearly ran into center fielder Vernon Wells, who allowed the ball to tick off his glove for what was ruled a triple. Ortiz followed with his double off Jeff Tam (0-4).
“There was obviously some miscommunication. The center fielder has priority on the play. That ball should have been caught,” Toronto manager Carlos Tosca said.
Down 7-3 in the eighth, the Red Sox batted around to tie it.
Ramirez led off with his 21st homer off Tanyon Sturtze. Ortiz walked, and Kevin Millar followed with a single to chase Sturtze. Johnny Damon followed with a grounder to third baseman Eric Hinske, whose error loaded the bases.
Brandon Lyon (4-5) pitched the eighth for the win.
Varitek, who learned before the game that he had made the AL All-Star team, went 2-for-3 with a walk and three RBIs.
Catalanotto homered and tied a career high with five hits for the Blue Jays. His previous five-hit game was May 17, 2000, with Texas against Tampa Bay.
The Blue Jays have lost nine of 11, including the first two of 12 straight games against the Red Sox and Yankees—the two teams ahead of them in the AL East.
Boston starter Derek Lowe got a no-decision despite allowing seven runs on a season-high 11 hits in six innings.
Ramirez hit his 19th career homer at SkyDome, tying him with Alex Rodriguez for most home runs by an opponent.
Delgado went 3-for-5 and knocked in his major league-leading 94th run.
Boston took a 2-0 lead in the first on Todd Walker’s sacrifice fly and Ortiz’s RBI single. The Blue Jays rallied with three runs in the bottom half on consecutive RBI doubles by Wells and Delgado, and Reed Johnson’s run-scoring single.
Varitek hit a tying RBI single in the second, but Greg Myers’ RBI infield single and Hinske’s run-scoring grounder in the fifth gave Toronto a 5-3 lead.
Catalanotto’s two-run homer off Lowe in the sixth made it 7-3.
Toronto starter Kelvim Escobar allowed three runs on eight hits, strikingout four and walking three in seven innings.
Varitek won the Internet balloting for the final AL spot on the All-Star team. Varitek received 3,210,509 votes to beat out Frank Thomas of the Chicago White Sox, Eric Byrnes of the Oakland Athletics, Jason Giambi of the New York Yankees and Bengie Molina of the Anaheim Angels for the 32nd spot onthe roster.