TORONTO — The Red Sox are still in last place, so the season hasn’t been saved. It will take a lot more than one successful road trip to do that.
But the Sox left Rogers Centre on Thursday night speaking in confident tones not heard since the early weeks of April.
In a game that resembled a lumberjack contest more than baseball, the Red Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 12-6, after scoring eight runs in the first inning.
Nine games out of first place when the trip started, the Sox are now six behind after taking two of three against the Tampa Bay Rays and three of four from the Blue Jays. They have eight games at home before the All-Star break, starting Friday night against Houston.
The Sox reached the midway point of the season 37-44, well below expectations. But they have won five of their last seven games.
“We haven’t been able to play consistently good. To finish the first half of the season playing the way we have lately, it gives you hope for the second half,” said David Ortiz, who helped fuel the first-inning outburst with a three-run homer.
“We’ve played the worst the first couple of months in the season and we are still six games away. Hopefully this momentum just carries over.”
The Red Sox had 19 hits, their most this season. Brock Holt and Xander Bogaerts had four each. Alejandro De Aza was 3 of 5 with a double, triple, and four RBIs. Mookie Betts added three hits and two RBIs.
All nine starters scored at least one run and all but Ryan Hanigan — back after two months on the disabled list — had at least one hit.
The offense was needed as Wade Miley and three relievers allowed 14 hits.
The Red Sox sent 12 batters to the plate in a 27-minute first inning and scored eight runs against Matt Boyd, a 24-year-old lefthander making his second start in the majors.
Boyd did not record an out and was charged with seven runs. He was demoted to Triple A Buffalo immediately after the game.
Betts, Holt, and Bogaerts — 11 for 18 at the top of the order — opened the game with singles, giving the Red Sox their first run. Boyd then fell behind Ortiz and left a fastball over the plate. Ortiz sent the ball over the fence in left field.
It was his first home run of the season against a lefthander. Ortiz has 14 on the season and 480 for his career. His 58 home runs against Toronto are the most for any player.
Ortiz has five home runs and 10 RBIs in the last 11 games. Those who declared him washed up in May appear to have been premature.
Hanley Ramirez followed up Ortiz’s blast with one of his own, his 16th. After Pablo Sandoval singled and Mike Napoli drew a walk, Boyd was taken out of the game.
Facing Liam Hendricks, De Aza hit a soft liner to center field that skipped past a diving Kevin Pillar and rolled all the way to the wall for a two-run triple.
Betts had another single to drive in De Aza and the Red Sox had an 8-0 lead. It might have been more, but Betts was called out for interfering with third baseman Josh Donaldson on a ball that deflected off Hendricks.
It was the biggest first inning for the Red Sox since June 27, 2003, when they scored 14 against the Florida Marlins and the biggest first inning on the road since putting 10 on Toronto on June 21, 1994.
Miley (8-7) should have had an easier night than he did. The lefthander was struggling throughout but went the requisite five innings for the win. He allowed four runs on seven hits and inexplicably seven walks. That matched his career worst.
“Wade turned in what would I consider a blue-collar night,” manager John Farrell said. “He found a way to make some big pitches.”
The Blue Jays, who lead the majors in runs, scored four times in the second inning and had the tying run at the plate when Chris Colabello grounded into a force play.
“It was a grind, no doubt. I had really no fastball command,” Miley said.
Alexi Ogando continued what has been terrific work with two scoreless innings in relief of Miley to get the game under control. Ogando has thrown 13⅔ scoreless innings in his last 12 appearances.
The Sox scored three runs in the seventh inning against righthander Steve Delabar. De Aza continued to impress with an RBI double. Betts and Bogaerts had RBI singles.
De Aza added an RBI single in the eighth inning. He is 14 of his last 30 with eight extra-base hits and 11 RBIs. The Red Sox are reaping huge benefits from a player acquired after Baltimore designated him for assignment.
Toronto kept hacking away, Russell Martin and Danny Valencia hitting home runs in the ninth inning against Craig Breslow.
But the Sox had done enough by that point. It was a cheery group that headed for the airport.
“A trip that we needed to claw our way back to within six,” Farrell said “Granted, we’re not looking at the scoreboard every night. But at the same time the way we had gone through the first 2½ months of the season in the division, to go 5-2 is certainly timely. We go back home with a little momentum.”