Red Sox-Blue Jays Preview

The Associated Press

Finally getting some run support, Ryan Dempster picked up his first win in a Boston Red Sox uniform.

The veteran right-hander could be in line for another if the MLB-leading Red Sox can continue their power surge versus the Blue Jays.

Dempster, a native of British Columbia, will make his first start in Toronto and first in Canada in a decade on Thursday night when Boston goes for its fourth consecutive series win.

Signed to a two-year deal in the offseason, Dempster (1-2, 3.30 ERA) went 0-2 through his first four starts with the Red Sox (19-8) totaling 12 runs in those contests. It was a different story on Friday, when Boston pounded out nine extra-base hits among its season-high 17 overall to back Dempster to the 7-3 win.

"(His splitter) was like some Nintendo stuff going on out there," catcher Davis Ross said.

Dempster struck out 10 for the second time in three starts.

"It's always nice to get the first win out of the way, especially the first one with a new team, and hopefully I can build off that and work toward another," he told the Red Sox' official website.

Dempster last faced the Blue Jays in a relief appearance in 2005 while with the Chicago Cubs, and his last appearance north of the border was April 19, 2003, when he pitched in Montreal while with Cincinnati. Dempster went 5-0 with a 3.71 ERA in nine starts visiting the Expos.

He can only hope his teammates' bats stay hot when he tries to send the Blue Jays (10-18) to their 12th defeat in 16 games. Led by Mike Napoli's two homers - tying Will Middlebrooks for a team-best four versus Toronto this season - Boston hit five out of the park in Wednesday's 10-1 win. The Red Sox, who hit three long balls in Tuesday's 9-7 loss, now have one more homer against Toronto (16) than the rest of their opponents combined.

"When the roof is closed and it's warm in here, the ball definitely flies,'' said manager John Farrell, whose club has a major league-best 8-3 road record.

Trying to slow down the Red Sox will be J.A. Happ (2-1, 3.86), who knows he'll have to cut down on his walks. The left-hander gave up two free passes in his last start, both of which scored on a Travis Hafner's three-run homer in Toronto's 5-4 loss at the New York Yankees on Saturday, and has 11 overall.

"It's something that can't happen,'' Happ said. "Maybe I was trying to overanalyze out there, set myself down to bring myself up, but we're well beyond that point. I've just got to figure it out quicker.''

Happ had it figured out against Boston in his first start of the season in a 5-0 win on April 6, combining with two relievers on a two-hitter.

The southpaw will get his first look at David Ortiz this season, who has hit safely in each of his 10 games since coming off the DL on April 20.

Ortiz, 0 for 2 off Happ, is riding a career-best 22-game hitting streak dating to last season.

Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion, who had his eight-game hitting streak snapped on Wednesday, is 1 for 11 off Dempster. So is Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus.

Boston has outscored Toronto 36-19 while winning three of five meetings this season, all played at Rogers Centre.

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