Red Sox 6, Blue Jays 4
BOSTON (AP)—Tim Wakefield ended Boston’s successful homestand with eight strong innings, sending the Red Sox on the road with a boost of confidence.
The knuckleballer allowed two runs and five hits, helping Boston move a season-high 15 games over .500 with a 6-4 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night.
“We had a great homestand here and I think it’s going to give us some momentum going into this road trip,” Wakefield said.
The Red Sox swept the three-game series against Toronto after going 3-1 against Tampa Bay and 1-2 against the Chicago White Sox for a 7-3 homestand. Boston improved to 67-52 overall.
After an off day, the Red Sox play three games at Chicago and three at Toronto.
“This is what it’s all about, the last six weeks of the season,” Kevin Millar said.
Millar and Bill Mueller each drove in two runs to help Boston stay atop the AL wild-card standings and move within eight games of the New York Yankees in the AL East. But the finale of the homestand nearly slipped away when Keith Foulke allowed two runs in the ninth while pitching for the third straight day.
“It’s one of these things I need to help stretch me out,” Foulke said. “It’ll make me better in the long run.”
Boston scored four runs in the first inning and two in the fourth before Toronto made it 6-2 in the eighth and had the go-ahead run at bat in the ninth.
The Blue Jays scored two runs on singles by pinch-hitter Orlando Hudson, Gabe Gross, Kevin Cash and Alex Rios before Frank Catalanotto ended the game with a fly ball that Johnny Damon caught a few feet in front of the left-center field wall.
“I thought I hit it well enough,” Catalanotto said. “That’s how things have been going for us lately.”
The Blue Jays dropped a season-high 23 games under .500 (49-72) by losing for the 13th time in 15 games.
“We’ve been in every game,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “Tonight we were a little bit out of it but we came back in the end.”
Wakefield (9-7) retired 13 consecutive batters during one stretch and left after throwing 104 pitches. He allowed one walk and struck out five.
“His ability to mix in his curveball for strikes was the key today,” catcher Doug Mirabelli said.
But on the eve of his last complete game six years ago, an 11-1 win against Kansas City, Wakefield failed to get another. Foulke, the winner in Tuesday night’s 5-4 victory, barely kept Boston ahead.
The Red Sox gave Wakefield plenty of support early, going ahead 4-0 in the first and 6-1 in the fourth against Miguel Batista (9-9), who is 1-4 in his last eight outings.
Wakefield put two runners on base in each of the first three innings. But after Wells’ one-out, ground-rule double in the third, the knuckleballer retired 13 consecutive batters. The streak began with Delgado’s sacrifice fly that scored Catalanotto, who was hit by a pitch.
Gross broke the string with a two-out single in the seventh before Cash grounded out.
Millar’s double drove in two runs, Orlando Cabrera’s groundout scored another and Mueller’s single sent home the fourth.
Boston made it 6-1 in the fourth, scoring two runs with no outs. Cabrera singled and scored on Mueller’s triple. Then Mirabelli singled home Mueller.
Millar extended his hitting streak to 10 games and is 14-for-32 during that span. … Mirabelli has reached base in 19 consecutive starts. He has played in just 35 games as a backup to catcher Jason Varitek. … Toronto is 0-8 at Fenway Park since winning Boston’s home opener. … The Blue Jays are 4-14 in August, the most losses in the AL this month. … Catalanotto is hitless in his last 16 at-bats after going 0-for-4.
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