BOSTON - The Toronto Blue Jays limped into Boston for a weekend series having lost three straight games and slugger Jose Bautista to the disabled list in New York, and had fallen into last place in the American League East.
But by late Sunday afternoon, the Jays had scored 28 runs and swept three games from the Red Sox, bombing the floundering Jon Lester for a career-worst 11 runs in four-plus innings in a 15-7 victory that dropped Boston into last place in the division.
J.P. Arencibia drove in four runs with a three-run homer and a groundout, Rajai Davis had a loud solo homer and three hits (two RBIs), Brett Lawrie hit the first pitch of the game for a homer, and Travis Snider hit his first big-league homer of the year and drove in three runs for the Jays.
Toronto had 18 hits (at least one by all 10 players who batted) off five Boston pitchers.
Henderson Alvarez struggled through 5 2/3 innings and raised his record to 6-7. He gave up a three-run homer to Adrian Gonzalez (No. 9) in the first inning and a solo shot to Jacoby Ellsbury (No. 1) in the fifth. A fly ball lost in the sun by Davis led to Mike Aviles' second RBI of the game and KOd Alvarez, who gave up seven runs, the most in his two-year career.
Over his last three starts, Lester has gone 0-3, yielding 25 hits, 21 earned runs and 10 walks in 12 1/3 innings, his ERA going from 4.33 to 5.46. The Blue Jays, who had reached him for nine runs in his previous career worst start on Aug. 20, 2010, went 9-for-18 against him.
Lester and Josh Beckett, the 1-2 pitchers in the Sox rotation, are both 5-8, with a combined 5.03 ERA.
It took one pitch for Toronto to take a 1-0 lead, 10 pitches to make it 2-0, 16 for 3-0, 19 for 4-0, 27 for 5-0 and, after the Gonzalez homer, it became 8-3 on the 45th pitch and 9-3 on the 51st.
Lawrie started a five-run first inning with his ninth homer of the year, and Edwin Encarnacion, Arencibia, Davis and Jeff Mathis also drove in first-inning runs. Mathis got his RBI on a safety squeeze bunt that scored Davis.
Gonzalez hit his third homer of the seven-game homestand (after he had gone 66 at-bats without one) to bring his team back with one out in the bottom of the inning, but Arencibia (No. 15, second in as many games, this one a three-run shot) and Davis (No. 5) gave Toronto its fifth back-to-back homers of the season to make it 9-3.
For the second straight time, Junichi Tazawa relieved Lester after a four-inning start and saved the bullpen with three innings of five-strikeout/no-run work. But the Jays scored four runs off Mark Melancon in the eighth inning.
Aaron Loup and Andrew Carpenter retired the last 10 batters to quiet the Red Sox in the late innings.
NOTES: Boston pitchers have allowed a major-league-worst 83 first-inning runs and have a 7.03 first-inning ERA. The Sox have allowed first-inning runs in 12 of the last 14 games, 17 of the last 21. ... Bautista, on the disabled list with a left wrist injury, is coming along better than expected but no word on whether he can rejoin the team when eligible Aug. 1. Righty Brandon Morrow (oblique) has made progress since a setback, the hope being he can return in mid-to-late August. ... Boston's Carl Crawford, 2-for-12 in the last three games after going 5-for-10 in his first three games of the season earlier in the week, was rested, according to plan, while third baseman Will Middlebrooks, 12-for-63 since Kevin Youkilis was traded June 24, also sat. ... Red Sox reliever Andrew Bailey, who has yet to pitch for the team after thumb surgery, is about a week from a minor league rehab assignment, while fellow reliever Scott Atchison, on the 15-day DL with right forearm tightness, is slated to make a rehab appearance Friday and should return to the Sox shortly thereafter. ... The Red Sox open a tough six-game road trip in Texas Monday night, then move on to New York for three with the Yankees, their first games this season at Yankee Stadium. Roy Oswalt, the scheduled Texas started Monday night, was scratched with a lower back issue, with Scott Feldman starting. ... The Blue Jays, meanwhile, open a series with sizzling Oakland Tuesday night in Toronto. ... Toronto manager John Farrell improved to 129-128 in his two seasons.