BOSTON (AP) — Brandon Belt hit a solo homer over the Green Monster and had a go-ahead single, George Springer went 4 for 4 and the Toronto Blue Jays held off the Boston Red Sox 5-4 on Saturday for the second straight day after losing their first seven against them this season.
The game ended on a double play when Connor Wong hit a drive that Kevin Kiermaier caught at the base of the left-center field wall and fired to second to double up Reese McGuire, who had raced toward home and was standing at third, thinking the ball would be off the wall.
It was the eighth win in 13 games for the Blue Jays, who hold the AL’s third and final wild-card spot.
“The way the ball’s been flying the last few days, you think that’s kind of off the wall at the very least, but you never underestimate the power of Kevin Kiermaier in the outfield,” Toronto manager John Schneider said, smiling. “It definitely wasn’t easy, a little stressful, but at the end of the day you have the right guys against the right guys in the lineup and (Kiermaier) made a great play.”
Kiermaier also had an RBI single in the top of the ninth that proved to be the winning run.
“We all missed that one,” Boston manager Alex Cora said of the final play. “Everybody thought it was going to be off the wall. It was a bad play, a bad baseball play.”
Rafael Devers hit his 26th homer, a long, game-tying three-run shot for Boston, which lost for the sixth time in seven games and fell into last place in the AL East.
Making his first start after a splendid July when he posted a 1.84 ERA in five starts, Toronto’s José Berríos (9-7) gave up three runs in 5 2/3 innings on six hits, with six strikeouts and no walks.
“I would say the energy was pretty high after that play,” Belt said of the ending. “To catch a break like that, for it to go our way, much needed, and all of us were pumped up.”
Erik Swanson got the final two outs for his fourth save after giving up Luis Urías’ RBI single.
Belt’s bases-loaded single gave Toronto a 4-3 edge against Brennan Bernardino (1-1) in the sixth.
It could have been worse for the Red Sox, but Josh Winckowski entered and got Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to bounce into an inning-ending double play with the bases-loaded.
Guerrero went 0 for 5 and stranded six baserunners.
Devers’ shot over Toronto’s bullpen erased a 3-0 deficit in the fourth after singles by Masataka Yoshida and Justin Turner
Coming off a season high-tying five-homer night in a victory on Friday, Toronto made it 3-0 in the third with chants from a large contingent of fans yelling “Let’s Go Blue Jays!’’
Belt homered into the second row of Monster seats off Nick Pivetta before Alejandro Kirk’s RBI double and Daulton Varsho’s run-scoring single.
REHABBING RED SOX
Righty Tanner Houck made a rehab start with Triple-A Worcester Saturday. It was his first time pitching in a live game since he took a liner off the face from the bat of the Yankees’ Kyle Higashioka in mid-June and suffered a facial fracture.
Infielder Trevor Story (offseason right elbow surgery) is also with Worcester. He was the DH Saturday and manager Alex Cora said he’s scheduled to play short Sunday. Lefty Chris Sale (left shoulder inflammation) is set to make his second start with Worcester on Sunday.
Boston outfielder Alex Verdugo was scratched from the starting lineup about two hours before the first pitch. There was no word why he was taken out. Duvall took his spot in right field.
“Manager’s decision,” Verdugo said. “We’re going to leave it at that. … I want to be out there everyday. Today was hard to watch.”
Blue Jays: Catcher Danny Jansen was scratched from the starting lineup about an hour before with right wrist inflammation and Kirk took his spot.
Red Sox: Turner returned to the lineup after missing the previous three games with a bruised left heel. He was the DH, a spot Cora figures he’ll play a lot for the short term. … Right-hander Garrett Whitlock (right elbow inflammation) threw live BP off the Fenway Park mound to Reese McGuire and Pablo Reyes, even breaking Reyes’ bat on one swing. “He was good, velo was up, the shape of the pitches was good,” Cora said. “We’ll see how he’s feeling (Sunday) and then we’ll decide what we do.”
RHP Chris Bassitt (10-6, 4.00 ERA) is slated to go for the Blue Jays in Sunday afternoon’s series finale. The Red Sox haven’t announced a starter yet in what’s likely to be their second straight bullpen game.
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