TORONTO — It started out with small ball: a single, two bunts. and another single. By the time the 11th inning was over on Tuesday night, the Red Sox had scored seven runs, Mike Napoli had hit a home run for the ages and the Toronto Blue Jays were using an infielder to pitch.
The result was an 11-7 victory for the Red Sox on a night they were playing without David Ortiz.
“It’s nice to get a bunch of hits and have some fun like that,” said Dustin Pedroia, whose two-run single gave the Sox the lead before Napoli and Allen Craig homered. “Took us a while tonight.”
The Sox, who lost the final eight games of their homestand, have won the first two games at the Rogers Centre against the Jays and can sweep the series on Wednesday night with Joe Kelly facing Marcus Stroman.
Toronto has lost three straight to fall to 66-66. They are six games out in the wild card with 30 to play.
The Sox scored three runs in the first inning then only one over the nine innings that followed. Then they piled up runs in the 11th against Casey Janssen (3-2) and Sergio Santos.
Mookie Betts led off with a single. Christian Vazquez bunted back to the mound and Betts went to second. Betts was called out, but the call was overturned on replay. That the rookie made a close play was a sign of his hustle.
“Mookie gets a good read, gets a good jump. Obviously his speed carries him the rest of the way,” manager John Farrell said. “In the time that he’s come back in this most recent recall, he’s doing some things inside games that he might not have done the first couple of times up here. It’s a good sign of maturity and growth.”
When Brock Holt bunted to the left side of the mound, Janssen fumbled the ball and the bases were loaded.
Pedroia got ahead in the count then grounded a single to center with the infield in. The second baseman, who homered in the first inning, has driven in six runs in the last two games.
“Trying to stay in the middle of the field and drive the ball,” Pedroia said. “Trying to hit in the air. Luckily I hit it hard and got it by him.”
Facing Santos, Napoli fell behind 0-and-2 and belted a high fastball into the fifth deck in left field. According to the Blue Jays, it was only the 17th home run to reach that level since the stadium opened for baseball in 1989.
It was the 17th homer for Napoli, who was not particularly excited about his feat.
“Just trying to get a hit. Been scuffling a little bit. Just trying to hit it hard and get a single,” he said. “Hands reacted, got the barrel to it.”
One estimate had the ball traveling 451 feet.
“It doesn’t really matter if it goes in the first row to me,” Napoli said. “It’s always nice to mess around with your teammates when everyone is going crazy in the dugout. I don’t know. It’s just a homer.”
Others felt differently.
“That was really impressive. Haven’t seen many hit that far,” Pedroia said.
Said Craig: “Probably the farthest I’ve ever seen. Really impressive. Straight as an arrow right down the line.”
Daniel Nava doubled and then Craig homered to right field. It was his first with the Red Sox and first since July 5 when he was with the St. Louis Cardinals.
“Felt great,” Craig said. “It’s nice to contribute and add on in that inning. That was a big inning for our team in a real grinder of a game.”
The Jays at that point resorted to Steve Tolleson, who had come in to pinch run in the ninth inning for designated hitter Adam Lind. He got the final two outs of the inning.
The Sox had 14 hits with every starter getting at least one. Junichi Tazawa (3-3) went an inning for the win on a night the Red Sox used six relievers.
Rookie Heath Hembree allowed three runs in the bottom of the 11th, all with two outs. But the Sox had done enough to hold on.
The Red Sox scored three runs on three hits against Toronto starter R.A. Dickey in the first inning. Dickey followed up with five shutout innings, allowing only two more hits.
It was a promising start for the Sox. Holt struck out against the knuckleballer but reached on a passed ball. Pedroia then hit his second home run in as many nights, a second-deck shot to left field.
Napoli singled with one out and Craig drew a walk with two outs. Will Middlebrooks, who struck out three times on Monday but has always hit well here, doubled to center field. Napoli scored but Craig was easily thrown out at the plate.
Dickey was efficient otherwise and his teammates were able to come back against Sox starter Rubby De La Rosa, who allowed three runs over 4⅔ innings. He walked two and did not have a strikeout.
Dickey left the game after six innings and 106 pitches. The Sox took the lead back quickly against Dustin McGowan.
Holt singled and Pedroia walked with one out. Yoenis Cespedes then ripped a fastball into center field and Holt scored.
It was the 20th RBI for Cespedes in 23 games for the Sox. Eight have given the Red Sox the lead but the lead didn’t last long. Alex Wilson, who had pitched a scoreless sixth inning, allowed a long home run to center field by Jose Bautista leading off the bottom of the inning, his 25th of the season.Peter Abraham can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.