TORONTO – The Red Sox couldn’t finish off a sweep of the Blue Jays Sunday when Jon Lester, who pitched well for 6⅔ innings, allowed three runs with two outs in the seventh en route to a 5-0 loss before 21,698 at Rogers Centre.
With two outs in the seventh, Yan Gomes singled up the middle. Gomes was pinch run for by Rajai Davis, who stole second and scored easily on Omar Vizquel’s single to center. Adeiny Hechavarria followed with a two-run homer down the left-field line.
The Jays added a pair of insurance runs in the eighth as Colby Rasmus singled in one and Moises Sierra the other against the bullpen, which was ineffective. The biggest culprit was Daniel Bard, who allowed two runs without getting an out.
The Red Sox were their own worst enemy, leaving men on base throughout the game. Over the first four innings alone they were 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position, letting Toronto starter Brandon Morrow off the hook.
Dustin Pedroia singled and Jacoby Ellsbury walked with one out in the first, but the Sox couldn’t get anything out of it. In the second, Sierra lost Ryan Lavarnway’s fly ball in the sun in right and it kicked into the stands for a ground-rule double with one out. But again, the Sox didn’t come away with a run. In the fourth, Cody Ross singled, and after an out, Jarrod Saltalamacchia singled, too. But Boston ended up with nothing to show for it.
In the eighth, the Sox had runners at the corners with one out after Pedroia beat out an infield hit and Ellsbury singled, but Ross knocked into a double play.
The missed opportunities left Lester having to be almost perfect, which he almost was over the first six innings except for a leadoff double in the third by Vizquel. Lester certainly improved from a seven-walk outing Sept. 11 vs. the Yankees in which he lasted only 5⅓ innings and received no decision in a 3-2 Sox loss.
Lester worked himself out of quite a pickle in the fifth when the first two men reached, one on Lester’s throwing error to second base on Gomes’s sacrifice bunt attempt. With runners at first and second, Lester got the next three hitters, Vizquel and Hechavarria on strikeouts and Anthony Gose on a grounder to shortstop.
One of the more unusual aspects of the game came when manager Bobby Valentine pinch hit for Jose Iglesias on a 2-2 count against Brandon Lyon after Pedro Ciriaco had stolen second base with two outs in the seventh. Valentine was trying to win the game right there with the better hitter, but Daniel Nava tapped back to the pitcher for the final out.
The Sox move on to St. Petersburg, Fla. for a four-game series vs. the Rays starting Monday night.