Blue Jays 15, Red Sox 2
Johnson had a pinch-hit grand slam and six RBIs, and Lilly pitched seven solid innings, helping Toronto improve to 7-2 against Boston this season with a 15-2 victory Friday night.
Lilly (6-8) is 2-0 against the Red Sox this year with a 1.53 ERA, well below his season mark of 5.89. Johnson is 9-for-21 with three homers, 12 RBIs and seven runs in nine games. He has just six homers and 33 RBIs in all his games.
“It doesn’t matter at this point what we throw Reed Johnson. He’s one step ahead of us,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “He hits everything we throw.”
Lilly struggled much of the season but has improved recently with three wins in his last four starts. Two of his last four victories have been against the Red Sox.
“I just happened to throw some pretty decent games when my start came up against the Red Sox,” he said. “I don’t think that it has anything in particular to do with that particular lineup because, obviously, they have a pretty potent lineup.”
So do the Blue Jays—for the last two games anyway. The victory came one game after the Blue Jays had matched their season high for runs in a 12-3 win at Tampa Bay on Wednesday. The 15 runs were the most against the Red Sox this year.
Matt Clement (9-2) allowed eight runs in 5 2-3 innings. He was charged with the last three after he left the game with the bases loaded, and Mike Myers gave up Johnson’s first career grand slam, making it 9-1 in the sixth.
“We had Lilly on the ropes a little bit,” Clement said. “The difference is he made big pitches when he had to. I wasn’t able to finish the inning off when I needed to.”
Lilly retired Manny Ramirez on an inning-ending flyout with the bases loaded in the third. In the fifth, after Johnny Damon’s fourth homer of the season cut the lead to 4-1, Lilly gave up two singles before getting Ramirez on a double-play grounder and Jason Varitek on a flyout.
“I haven’t been getting away with too many mistakes and I think I did a little bit tonight,” Lilly said. “I made a couple of good pitches when I did get into some jams.”
The win moved the Blue Jays into third place in the AL East, one game ahead of the New York Yankees, who lost to Detroit 10-2.
“We’re in a good position now, but everyone knows there’s a long way to go,” Johnson said.
Boston still leads the AL East by 2 1/2 games over Baltimore.
Clement had two bad innings, allowing four runs in the third and another four in Toronto’s five-run sixth.
After Myers allowed Johnson’s homer, Boston’s season-long bullpen woes worsened in the seventh when Matt Mantei walked the bases loaded, gave up a two-run double to Eric Hinske and walked Alex Rios to reload the bases.
Clement struck out four in the first two innings, then gave up hits to the first four batters in the third—singles by Rios and Orlando Hudson, an RBI single by Adams and a two-run double by Catalanatto. Aaron Hill added a run-scoring single.
“They’re a better team than they were before,” Francona said, “and they’ve played good against us.”
Johnson’s pinch grand slam was the third in Blue Jays history. Jesse Barfield hit one against Tom Burgmeier of Boston on April 24, 1982, and Tony Fernandez did it against Lilly, then with the Yankees, on Sept. 4, 2001. … Vernon Wells’ eight-game hitting streak ended. … Damon extended his hitting streak to 17 games, one less than his season and career highs. … Francona said no decision has been made on whether Curt Schilling’s rehabilitation start Monday at Triple-A Pawtucket will be his last. He went on the disabled list April 29 with an ankle injury and made his first rehab start Wednesday.