Jacoby Ellsbury homered, tripled and singled on Tuesday night to help Josh Beckett become the majors’ first 17-game winner and lead the Red Sox to a 5-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. The victory was Boston’s fourth straight, a streak that began with Buchholz’s no-hitter.
“Every game (Ellsbury’s) played, it’s not only exciting, it’s very beneficial to us winning,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.
Since being recalled from Triple-A on Sept. 1, Ellsbury is 8-for-12 with a double, triple, two homers, five RBIs, five runs and two stolen bases. The two homers matches his total from 436 at-bats in Double-A and Triple-A this season.
“I’m glad he saved them up,” Francona said.
The game was scoreless with one out and runners on first and third in the fourth when Coco Crisp hit a potential double-play ball to second base. The Blue Jays got the force at second, but Crisp barely beat the relay to stay out of a double play, allowing the run to score and keeping the inning alive.
“A break that didn’t go our way,” said Halladay, who gave up five runs on nine hits and two walks, striking out seven in eight innings. “I let it bother me and I got caught up in the emotion, and I didn’t make good pitches after that.”
If Crisp didn’t hustle down the line, Francona said, “we don’t score in that inning.”
“That allowed what happened to happen,” he said. “Ellsbury doesn’t even hit. Pedroia doesn’t come up. That was really big, obviously.”
Beckett (17-6) gave up a three-run homer to Matt Stairs in the fifth, but retired the last eight batters he faced before Jonathan Papelbon pitched the ninth for his 33rd save. Coming off a start against the Yankees in which he allowed a career high 13 hits, Beckett gave up three runs on five hits in eight innings, striking out seven and walking two.
The Yankees’ Chien-Ming Wang earned his 17th win later Tuesday night to match Beckett for the most in the majors. But New York remained seven games behind Boston in the division with a magic number of 17, meaning any combination of Red Sox wins and Yankee losses totaling 17 or more would give Boston its first AL East title since 1995.
Halladay also gave up Kevin Youkilis’ solo homer in the eighth to make it 5-3. But the Blue Jays’ righty still earned his major league-leading seventh complete game. He has pitched five consecutive complete games, but won just one of them.
“We saw two of the best,” Toronto outfielder Vernon Wells said of the pitching matchup. “The home runs did the bulk of the damage. Great pitchers make mistakes, but find a way to work through them.”
Needing just a double for the cycle, Ellsbury was left in the on-deck circle when Crisp lined out to right in the eighth.
Frank Thomas singled in the sixth inning to extend his hitting streak to 14 games, the longest by a Blue Jay this season. … Toronto recalled RHP Josh Banks and IF Hector Luna from Triple-A Syracuse and purchased the contract of C Sal Fasano from Syracuse. The Blue Jays also transferred LHP Gustavo Chacin from the 15-day to the 60-day DL. … RHP Brandon League was activated from the 15-day disabled list (strained oblique muscle). … Pedroia was 0-for-11 against Halladay before singling in the first inning and doubling in the fourth. … Ellsbury had just two homers in 436 minor league at-bats at Double-A and Triple-A this season. … RHP Clay Buchholz was named the AL player of the week after throwing a no-hitter in just his second major league start. … The Red Sox recalled RHP Devern Hansack from Triple-A Pawtucket. … Mike Lowell was hitless to snap a 16-game hitting streak, which had been the longest in the majors.