BOSTON -- With Toronto's rotation ravaged by injuries left-hander Aaron Laffey was pressed into starting duty in the big leagues for the first time since July 19, 2010.
Laffey gave the Blue Jays an impressive outing, going six scoreless innings, giving up three hits and two walks with two strikeouts.
But turning the game over to the Jays bullpen in the seventh was Toronto's downfall, as the Red Sox beat the Blue Jays, 5-1, Tuesday night at Fenway Park.
After giving up a lead-off single to Mike Aviles, Laffey retired the next 12 batters before Adrian Gonzalez's double to left field to lead off the fifth. With two outs in the inning, he issued his first walk, to Darnell McDonald. But Brent Lillibridge, whom Boston acquired Sunday in a trade with the White Sox for Kevin Youkilis, popped out to second baseman Kelly Johnson to end the threat.
But his effort was not rewarded.
With two outs in the seventh, reliever Jason Frasor gave up a solo home run to Jarrod Saltalamacchia, his 14th of the season. Luis Perez replaced Frasor and gave up a double to pinch-hitter Ryan Kalish. David Pauley entered, hitting pinch-hitter Daniel Nava with a pitch and walking Aviles before giving up a two-run single to Dustin Pedroia, with Aviles thrown out trying to go to third.
The Sox added two runs in the eighth, as the first three batters reached off Pauley -- David Ortiz on a double to left, Cody Ross on a single to right, and Gonzalez on a run-scoring double to center -- driving Pauley from the game with Scott Richmond replacing him. Will Middlebrooks' sacrifice fly scored Ross.
"Everyone stepped in and played great," Pedroia said. "We've had some injuries but guys have stepped in and they're producing like the guys that got hurt. So it's big for us."
"I think it means a lot," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said of his team's rally. "It means the way we did it, I think with Dustin getting the two RBIs with bases loaded. It seems like it's been so long since he's been in that opportunity late in a game where he could win the game, and it presented itself and he drove the runs in and that really gives us strength."
Blue Jays manager John Farrell was pleased with the effort he got from his starter.
"Aaron Laffey pitched a heck of a six innings for us," said Farrell. "We were looking at an 80-pitch limit for him tonight and he gave us six outstanding innings, shutout innings, we were up 1-0.
"Frasor comes in, gets the first couple outs and then, as their left-handers can do, they stay inside the ball, they use that wall to their advantage. Saltalamacchia hits a solo home run and then we look to match up from there. In that seventh inning with two outs, we've got three guys who were ahead in the count and that put-away pitch was elusive, and they were able to bunch the three runs together."
Despite the results Laffey was encouraged by his performance.
"Without a doubt," he said. "All the confidence in the world. Starting the year in Triple-A for me and having an opportunity to go there and start. I was able to go there and work on the things that I had to do and just waiting for that opportunity to get into the rotation. Just coming up helping the team out in the bullpen, always have done whatever the team needed me to do. But getting this opportunity is definitely something I have been waiting on for a couple of years now."
Daisuke Matsuzaka, making his fourth start of the season for the Red Sox as he tries to make his way back from Tommy John surgery in June 2011, again struggled in the first inning. He gave up a lead-off double to Brett Lawrie, who advanced to third when Colby Rasmus reached on a fielder's choice, scoring on Edwin Encarnacion's one-out single.
But Matsuzaka allowed no further damage in the inning and settled down after that. He held the Blue Jays scoreless for the remainder of his outing, but left with two on and two outs in the sixth. Reliever Scott Atchison needed just two pitches to get out of the inning, getting Rajai Davis to ground into a fielder's choice.
Matsuzaka, who was not involved in the decision, went 5 2/3 innings, giving up one run on six hits and a walk with five strikeouts.
Andrew Miller pitched one-third scoreless inning to earn the win, improving to 2-0 with a 2.12 ERA.
Perez took the loss, falling to 2-2 with a 3.53 ERA.
NOTES: Blue Jays right-hander Henderson Alvarez received an MRI on his elbow Tuesday after leaving his Monday start against the Red Sox on the sixth inning with elbow soreness. The results of the MRI showed inflammation. Alvarez is expected to make his start, Saturday against the Angels... Catcher Travis D'Arnaud, one of Toronto's top prospects, is expected to miss six to eight weeks with a torn posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. D'Arnaud was injured Monday while sliding into first base attempting to break up a double play in Triple-A Las Vegas' loss to Sacramento...Toronto signed 49-year-old left-hander Jamie Moyer to a minor league contract. Moyer will pitch two games from Triple-A Las Vegas, after which the situation will be reevaluated...Right-hander Scott Richmond was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas. To make room on the roster, right-hander Robert Coello was optioned to Triple-A...Right-hander Drew Hutchison was transferred to the 60-day disabled list with a right ulnar collateral ligament sprain. . . . The Red Sox released a statement regarding the health of right-hander Clay Buchholz, who has been on the disabled list retroactive to June 20, with a stomach illness: "Clay Buchholz has esophagitis which led to an erosion of the esophagus and an associated gastrointestinal bleed. He has been evaluated and observed at Mass General Hospital. Clay is doing well and is expected to make a full recovery."...Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, on the DL since April 14 with a subluxation of his right shoulder, is expected to travel to the team's complex in Fort Myers, Fla., after the conclusion of the nine-game homestand on Wednesday. Ellsbury could begin a 20-day rehab assignment Friday, serving as the designated hitter for Boston's Gulf Coast League team...Left fielder Carl Crawford, who began the season on the DL after surgery on his left wrist in mid-January and a subsequent elbow injury, began a rehab assignment with the GCL team on Sunday, serving as the DH. He is getting close to playing in the field. But, with storms washing out the last two days of games, the club is trying to decide whether to keep him in Fort Myers or move him to another affiliate...Right-hander Josh Beckett has been on the DL retroactive to June 12 with right shoulder inflammation. He is expected to be activated during the four-game series in Seattle that begins Thursday...Valentine said he is considering using a six-man rotation through the All-Star break. The Sox current rotation includes Jon Lester, Franklin Morales, Aaron Cook, Felix Doubront, and Matsuzaka, with the impending addition of Beckett. Beginning Thursday, the Sox have 10 games left before the All-Star break. After Seattle they travel to Oakland for three games, returning home for four with the Yankees, including a day-night doubleheader on July 7. They have on off-day, July 5, before the break, which begins July 9.