TORONTO — The Red Sox had one run on two hits through seven innings against the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night and that run was the product of an error.
That starter Drew Pomeranz had trouble throwing strikes and couldn’t get through five innings only made it worse. The best team in baseball looked vulnerable, tired even.
That they left the Rogers Centre having won the game, 10-7, in 10 innings was hard to explain. Or maybe it wasn’t.
“We’re pretty good,” said Mitch Moreland, whose three-run homer in the 10th inning rescued the Sox after Craig Kimbrel blew a save in the ninth. “We keep creating opportunities. It didn’t start off great for us, but that’s the reason you play nine innings or however many you need.”
The 80-34 Sox have won five straight, nine of 10, and 24 of 29.
What had been largely a poorly played and pitched game for the Sox changed in the eighth inning when they scored four runs to take a 5-3 lead.
Toronto starter Marcus Stroman, who had baffled the Sox, came out of the dugout but returned after warming up because of a blister on his right middle finger.
The Jays, who traded away their best relievers last month, went to Ryan Tepera and the Sox pounced.
The comeback started when Sandy Leon doubled down the line in right. Mookie Betts drew a walk and Andrew Benintendi singled to load the bases.
When Moreland grounded to the right side, Toronto took the out at second base as Leon scored.
Tepera then fell behind J.D. Martinez, 2 and 0. He came in with a fastball and Martinez pulled it down the line, keeping his hands inside the ball.
Tepera shouted at umpire Ed Hickox when the inning ended and was ejected.
Matt Barnes allowed a run in the eighth inning before Kimbrel inherited a 5-4 lead in the ninth. He got one out before Justin Smoak homered to right-center.
Kimbrel managed to keep the game tied, but it was the latest in what has been a concerning run of games. The All-Star closer has allowed five runs on six hits and five walks over 5⅓ innings in his last five games.
“It’s frustrating,” Kimbrel said. “Today I felt like I had the best stuff I’ve had in probably the last two weeks . . . I hate it. I hate blowing games. I hate making us play extra innings. But again our guys do what they do.”
Sox manager Alex Cora feels Kimbrel has lost his curveball.
“You see them foul it off, taking it right away,” he said. “It seems like recognizing that right away it’s a ball. They’re not offering.
“Like everybody else, we’ll get back and take a look at it. We’ll fix him and if we have a save situation, he’ll be there tomorrow.”
In a 5-5 game, Betts tripled to center field off Ken Giles with one out in the 10th. Toronto then pitched around Benintendi, setting up a double play with Moreland at the plate.
“I wasn’t thinking single,” said Moreland, who pounded a fastball for his 14th homer.
After Xander Bogaerts singled, Jackie Bradley Jr. homered to right-center. The extra runs were needed. Tyler Thornburg allowed a two-run homer by Kevin Pillar in the bottom of the inning before ending the game.
The Red Sox bullpen allowed five runs, the Blue Jays bullpen nine.
Martinez was 3 for 5 with four RBIs. He is hitting .328 with 34 home runs and 97 RBIs with 48 games remaining.
Pomeranz left the mound with two outs in the fifth inning with the Sox trailing, 2-1. But the score had little relation to how he pitched.
Pomeranz put nine men in base over 4⅔ innings, threw only 44 of 84 pitches for strikes, and got only three swings and misses.
Toronto scored in the third inning when Randal Grichuk walked and Devon Travis followed with a 428-foot shot to left field for his eighth home run.
“I pitched pretty good other than that,” Pomeranz said, his assessment ignoring all the walks.
Pomeranz at this point is not a viable starter. He has a 6.31 earned run average and 1.81 WHIP in 11 starts.
The lefthander was on the disabled list for nearly two months with biceps tendinitis before returning on July 24. He has a 5.02 ERA in three starts since.
“This whole year I feel like something is holding me back a little bit,” Pomeranz said. “I’m blocking myself off. I can roll through outs. I lose three hitters and then I get it back.”
Cora did not commit to Pomeranz starting again on this road trip.
“We’ll see. He’s still searching; we’re still looking,” Cora said. “We need this guy. He’s very important for what we’re trying to accomplish.”
With scheduled days off Monday and Thursday next week, the Sox can skip Pomeranz and see if he can find a role in the bullpen.
Trailing, 2-0, the Sox got a run back in the fourth.
Benintendi reached on an error by Travis at second base on a routine ground ball. After Moreland walked, Martinez knocked an RBI single into right field.
Facing Brandon Workman, Kendrys Morales led off the bottom of the sixth inning with a shot up the gap in right. What should have been a double was only a single for the slow DH.
Yangervis Solarte drew a walk ahead of a single by Aledmys Diaz. Morales stopped at third.
With the bases loaded, Morales stayed put on a fly ball to left. When Luke Maile dribbled a ball down the third base line, catcher Leon was quick to scoop it up and tag Morales as he lumbered past.
Grichuk then tapped a ball in front of the plate and Workman flipped it to Leon for the final out of an unusual inning.