Bobby Valentine may pack more of a punch than the Boston Red Sox lineup.
His words are creating more of a stir.
The embattled manager hopes to move beyond his controversial comments as the Red Sox return to Fenway Park after a dismal road trip to face the last-place Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night.
Valentine's first year in Boston (63-75) has been an extremely difficult one with the team headed for its second straight year out of the postseason.
There has been talk that Valentine's job could be in jeopardy and the manager didn't help himself with some controversial comments.
Valentine claimed he was kidding when he threatened to punch a talk-show host in the mouth Wednesday, making the comment during an interview on Boston radio station WEEI with hosts Glenn Ordway and Michael Holley.
"Didn't I go, 'Ha, ha?'" Valentine said. "I don't think physical violence is necessary for 60-year-old people."
The issue stemmed from a report that Valentine arrived later than normal for a game in Oakland last week, and he was asked if he's "checked out" on the season.
"What an embarrassing thing to say. If I were there right now, I'd punch you right in the mouth. Ha, ha," said Valentine, who explained to reporters later that he was late due to traffic after picking up his son at the airport in San Francisco.
The Red Sox's travels went far worse than that, losing eight of nine on a West Coast trip while averaging 2.3 runs and hitting .223. They capped that dismal stretch by mustering five hits in Wednesday's 2-1 loss to Seattle.
"This was not a good road trip, obviously," Valentine said. "One of the worst I've ever experienced."
Cody Ross continues to be one of the few offensive bright spots, getting three hits Wednesday to give him a .341 average with 11 RBIs in 11 games. He's been even better over his last 13 home contests, hitting .407 while knocking in 12 runs.
Boston may need Ross to continue his hot hitting with struggling Felix Doubront (10-7, 5.03 ERA) scheduled to take the mound.
The left-hander is 0-3 with a 7.85 ERA over his last six starts, and he's pitched beyond the fifth inning just once in that span. His latest start was the shortest of his career, getting tagged for five runs and six hits over three innings of a 7-1 loss to Oakland.
Doubront is 1-1 with a 4.67 ERA in three outings against Toronto this year. He gave up seven runs - five earned - and 11 hits in six innings of a 9-6 loss June 25 at Fenway.
Henderson Alvarez (7-12, 5.04) beat Doubront in that matchup, allowing five runs - three earned - in five innings. The right-hander won at Boston again July 22, despite getting tagged for seven runs and two homers in 5 2-3 innings of a 15-7 victory.
Like Doubront, however, Alvarez has struggled in his last six games, going 0-5 with a 7.67 ERA.
He lost again Saturday, yielding four runs and five hits with four walks in five innings of a 5-4 defeat to Tampa Bay.
Toronto is trying to build on Wednesday's 6-4 win over Baltimore, ending a four-game slide.
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|August 27, 2012||Henderson Alvarez||Day-to-Day||Left game - left shin contusion|
|August 27, 2012||Aaron Laffey||Day-to-Day||Left game - left calf contusion|
|August 26, 2012||Jose Bautista||15-Day DL||Left wrist inflammation|
|August 23, 2012||David Cooper||15-Day DL||Upper back soreness|
|August 22, 2012||David Cooper||Day-to-Day||Left game - jammed neck|
|August 19, 2012||David Cooper||Day-to-Day||Lower back tightness|
|Boston Red Sox|
|September 02, 2012||Jacoby Ellsbury||Day-to-Day||Sore right wrist|
|August 25, 2012||David Ortiz||15-Day DL||Aggravated right Achilles strain|
|August 25, 2012||Daniel Nava||15-Day DL||Sprained left wrist|
|August 24, 2012||Franklin Morales||15-Day DL||Left shoulder fatigue|
|August 20, 2012||Carl Crawford||Day-to-Day||Left elbow surgery|
|August 11, 2012||Will Middlebrooks||15-Day DL||Broken right wrist - out for season|
BOSTON (AP) -- Henderson Alvarez was overdue for a victory. He got it against a Boston Red Sox team that hasn't won many games lately, either.
Toronto's starter broke a six-game winless streak and the Blue Jays hit three homers, prolonging the misery of the Red Sox with a 7-5 win on Friday night.
"He was powerful," Toronto manager John Farrell said. "He threw a lot of strikes. He kept the ball on the ground."
The Red Sox were hoping for a boost from their return home after going 1-8 on a West Coast trip that left them just one game ahead of the last-place Blue Jays in the AL East. Now Boston is clinging to fourth place by the very slim margin of .4532 to .4525.
"We're trying to come out and play winning baseball," said Dustin Pedroia , who hit a solo homer. "We haven't played well the last few weeks, basically the last couple of months. We have to find a way to put a good game together and build on it."
The night began poorly as the start of the game was delayed by rain for one hour, 18 minutes.
When it began, Alvarez (8-12) found the right opponent to snap out of the six-game stretch in which he was 0-5 with a 7.67 ERA. He allowed two runs and four hits in 6 1-3 innings. Alvarez left after feeling stiffness in his triceps, but Farrell wasn't concerned.
Red Sox starter Felix Doubront (10-8) also was trying to stop a skid, but now he's 0-4 in his past seven starts after giving up five runs and six hits before leaving with no outs in the fifth.
"It's just unfortunate we can't get anything going in the right direction," Red Sox shortstop Mike Aviles said.
Moises Sierra and Colby Rasmus added two-run homers to help Toronto win its second game after four consecutive losses. Rasmus' 22nd homer of the year in the ninth provided the winning margin when Mauro Gomez hit a two-run shot, his second, for Boston in the bottom of the inning.
"Colby, boy, when he's right, that's as good a swing as you're going to see," Farrell said.
Encarnacion drove in the first two runs with a sacrifice fly in the first inning and his 38th homer in the third on a 1-2 count. Encarnacion tied Adam Dunn of the Chicago White Sox for second most homers in the AL, one behind Texas' Josh Hamilton .
"When you look at what his production has been in a 1-2 count, he's hitting almost .350 on the year with a high number of homers," Farrell said. "He doesn't overswing the bat in those counts."
Sierra made it 4-0 in the fourth with his fourth homer, following a walk to Kelly Johnson .
After Rasmus led off the fifth with a triple, Doubront was replaced by Clayton Mortensen , who gave up a run-scoring single to Yunel Escobar . Then he retired five straight batters, four on strikeouts.
The Red Sox cut the lead to 5-1 in the fifth when Ryan Kalish reached on an infield single, took third on a single by Scott Podsednik and scored when Podsednik was forced out at second on a grounder by Dustin Pedroia .
Boston scored again in the seventh but wasted a chance to do better. With one out, Pedro Ciriaco walked, stole second and scored on a single by Gomez. Podsednik then drove the ball to deep left field where Rajai Davis made the catch. Gomez had rounded second by then and was easily doubled up as he ran back toward first base.
"It was hit better than I thought initially. Then I just tried to outrun it," Davis said. "I saw him sneaking around second base."
Pedroia added his 13th homer, a solo shot, in the eighth.
"We couldn't find a way to get runs early," he said. "We scored some runs late but we need to do a better job of putting some runs on the board."
NOTES: LHP J.A. Happ will miss the rest of the season for Toronto with a fractured right foot. Aaron Laffey (3-5) will start in his place on Saturday night against Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-4). ... Blue Jays C J.P. Arencibia and 3B Brett Lawrie were activated from the disabled list and were in the starting lineup. ... Toronto recalled RHPs David Carpenter and Joel Carreno and C-IF Yan Gomes from Triple-A Las Vegas. ... The U.S. national anthem was sung by Andre McClain, ringmaster of Ringling Brothers & Barnum & Bailey circus. ... Pedroia reached base in all four-at bats - on an error, two forceouts and a homer - and has hits in 29 of his last 31 games.