Red Sox 9, Blue Jays 2

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TORONTO (AP)—Changing speeds more often has made Josh Beckett unbeatable this season.

Beckett (7-0) gave up a home run on his first pitch, then settled down to become the first seven-game winner in the majors as the Boston Red Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays 9-2 Tuesday night.

“We’ve been saying all along he’s matured,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “He’s a better pitcher. He feels good about himself.”

Beckett was tagged for a home run by Alex Rios on the first pitch, and Adam Lind followed with a double. But Beckett got Vernon Wells on a popup, struck out Frank Thomas and retired Troy Glaus on a grounder.

“To his credit, he reeled it back in in a hurry,” Francona said. “He got down in the zone and made adjustments real quick, which was really good to see.”

The Blue Jays lost their seventh in a row.

“One win right now would do wonders,” manager John Gibbons said.

Mike Lowell and Dustin Pedroia each hit three-run homers for Boston, while Jason Varitek and Kevin Youkilis added solo home runs. Youkilis later was hit by a pitch above the left knee and left with a bruise.

“There’s going to be some tightness,” said Youkilis, who was hit on the same leg on Sunday. “Hopefully I’ll get through it and be all right.”

Beckett worked seven innings, setting down 14 straight at one stretch. He allowed one run on five hits, walked one, struck out five and lowered his ERA to 2.51.

“To give up one run to that lineup, that’s a feat in itself,” Beckett said.

Youkilis said Beckett is succeeding by throwing more off-speed pitches.

“He’s using his sinker and not trying to overpower guys as much,” Youkilis said. “He’s using his curveball and throwing that for strikes, using his change-up and throwing that for strikes. His off-speed stuff is the key to his success. A lot of power pitchers want to throw it by guys. He’s finally understanding that off-speed is the key to being a power pitcher.”

Beckett said he made an effort to mix up his pitches even with the seven-run cushion.

“When you get a bigger lead you’re throwing more fastballs, trying to get ahead in the count, but you definitely don’t forget about your secondary stuff,” Beckett said.

Beckett is the first Red Sox pitcher to win his first seven starts of a season since Roger Moret won eight straight in 1973. Babe Ruth (1917), Dave Ferriss (1945) and Moret share the Red Sox record with wins in each of their first eight games.

Youkilis got the Red Sox started with a home run in the first inning, and Boston led 8-1 by the third.

Varitek singled with two outs in the second, Coco Crisp walked and Pedroia hit his first home run of the season.

“I’ve been working a lot and it’s paying off now,” Pedroia said. “I always had confidence in my ability, it’s just a matter of showing it. It’s tough starting off slow, but once you get going it’s fun to come out if it like this.”

In the third, Manny Ramirez singled and J.D. Drew walked before Lowell and Varitek both homered.

Toronto DH Frank Thomas said the pair of three-run blasts were “dagger killers.”

“When they go in your chest, they hurt really bad,” Thomas said. “We’re struggling and that was not what the doctor ordered.”

It was the first time Boston connected for consecutive homers since it hit four in a row against the Yankees on April 22. Varitek’s homer finished Victor Zambrano (0-2).

Varitek finished 4-for-4 with a walk and scored three runs.

Julio Lugo hit an RBI double in the eighth off Toronto reliever Jason Frasor.

Pinch-hitter Matt Stairs singled home a run in the Toronto eighth off reliever Devern Hansack. The Blue Jays later loaded the bases, but the inning ended when J.C. Romero struck out Lyle Overbay.

Notes

Youkilis was replaced by Eric Hinske. … The win was Francona’s 300th as Boston manager. He’s the 10th manager in team history to reach that mark. … Rios hit his third leadoff homer of the season. … Toronto Raptors forward Chris Bosh attended the game.

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