Red Sox 9, Blue Jays 3
TORONTO (AP)—From the windup, Daisuke Matsuzaka has been fine. It’s when he pitched from the stretch that there were problems.
Matsuzaka worked in-between starts to fine-tune his delivery, and the results showed. He won his third straight decision and the Boston Red Sox beat Toronto 9-3 Wednesday, sending the Blue Jays to their eighth loss in a row.
Matsuzaka (4-2), who allowed a season-high seven runs in his last start, was much more effective against Toronto. He struck out eight in seven innings, allowing just one run and five hits.
“When I had struggled, the coaches and I talked about some of the difficulties with rhythm and timing and in my bullpen session and long toss this week. I definitely worked on those two elements,” Matsuzaka said through a translator.
“Once I got up on the mound today, I was not over-conscious about timing, but having gone through those in practice, I was able to move things in a more positive direction.”
Red Sox manager Terry Francona said Matsuzaka looked more comfortable than in his last outing.
“He wasn’t forcing the issue, he was trusting his ability and his command,” he said. “He worked hard this week and it paid off.”
“He threw everything for strikes and he located very well,” he said. “He threw up, he threw down. He executed all his pitches very, very well. It was exciting to watch.”
Catcher Jason Varitek said Matsuzaka kept the Blue Jays off-balance by working to both sides of the plate.
“He just had a better feel,” Varitek said. “He was more in the zone with all his pitches than his last time.”
The Red Sox hit four home runs for the second straight game. They’ve won six of seven.
“When you get offense from all over the place, one through nine, that certainly helps,” Francona said.
The matchup between Matsuzaka and Toronto’s Tomo Ohka was just the fourth time in major league history that two Japanese starters have faced off. The last time it happened was June 19, 2002, when Ohka, then with Montreal, beat Kansas City’s Mac Suzuki.
Ohka (2-4) got the loss in this one, allowing three runs and six hits over 4 2-3 innings. He walked five, one intentional, and struck out two.
Ramirez put the Red Sox in front with a run-scoring groundout in the first, and sloppy defense from Ohka led to two more Boston runs in the second.
With Eric Hinske at first after a leadoff walk, Dustin Pedroia bunted up the first-base line. Ohka tried to push the ball to first but it rolled past the bag and down the line, allowing both runners to move up. Lugo followed with a run-scoring groundout and Pedroia scored on Ortiz’s opposite-field double.
Boston added three more in the sixth against Scott Downs, who had not given up a run in 9 1-3 innings over 15 appearances.
Pedroia led off with a single and scored on Lugo’s homer, his second. Two outs later, Ramirez homered into the second deck in left, his sixth.
Ortiz hit a two-run homer off Josh Towers in the eighth, his ninth, and Lowell added his sixth homer in the ninth.
“He actually gets a lot of hits taken away with that big shift, but you can’t shift someone into the stands,” Lowell said about Ortiz. “There aren’t any pitches he can’t handle.”
Lyle Overbay’s solo homer in the sixth was all Toronto could manage against Matsuzaka.
Overbay added another home run in the ninth, his sixth, off Joel Pineiro. It’s Toronto’s first multihomer game of the season and the fifth of Overbay’s career.
The Blue Jays remain mired in their worst stretch since a nine-game losing streak in 2002.
“This is about as low as it can get,” Overbay said.
Toronto’s Alex Rios went 4-for-4 with a walk and became the first batter to reach base five times against Matsuzaka. … Boston’s Kevin Youkilis (sore left leg) was a late scratch. He was replaced by Hinske. … Suzuki was the loser in all three previous matchups of Japanese pitchers, losing to New York’s Hideki Irabu on May 7, 1999, and to Detroit’s Hideo Nomo on July 2, 2000. … It was Ortiz’s 10th four-hit game and his first since July 29, 2006, against the Los Angeles Angels.