The Boston Red Sox are no longer in last place in the AL East.
That could change if Jon Lester isn't better than in his last outing against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Lester will try to rebound from one of his wildest starts Sunday when the visiting Red Sox go for their first three-game winning streak since July.
Entering this series having dropped 13 of 15 and with six straight losses to Toronto (65-79), Boston (66-80) is now in position for its first road sweep since April 23-25 versus Minnesota.
The Red Sox moved percentage points ahead of the Blue Jays in the East with Saturday's 3-2 victory and could win three straight for the first time since a four-game stretch July 28-31."It's a good sign we're not laying down and dying," said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia , who scored the go-ahead run on Pedro Ciriaco 's ninth-inning double. "We're continuing to fight even though we're as far out as we are. It shows a lot about this team. It's a good sign."
So is Lester's 4-1 record and 3.66 ERA in his last six starts. The left-hander, though, walked a career-high seven in Tuesday's 4-3 victory over the New York Yankees .
"I wasn't giving myself a chance," Lester told the Red Sox's official website after striking out five to move ahead of Bruce Hurst for the most by a Red Sox left-hander with 1,044. "I wasn't in good pitchers' counts. I just didn't have a feel for anything. It was one of those nights where I had to battle through it."
Lester (9-11, 4.99 ERA) is 6-2 with a 2.31 ERA in his last nine starts at Rogers Centre, but he was awful the last time he faced Toronto - getting tagged for career highs of four homers and 11 runs in a 15-7 home loss July 22.
The Red Sox, whose last three-game road win streak spanned May 23-June 2, will face Brandon Morrow (8-6, 3.16) for the first time in 2012.
The right-hander failed to give Toronto a season-best fifth straight victory Tuesday, giving up four runs and a career high-tying 11 hits in a 4-3 loss to Seattle.
Morrow posted a 2.60 ERA in his first three starts after returning from a strained left oblique Aug. 25."He wasn't as powerful, wasn't as sharp," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said.
Morrow hasn't been sharp at all versus Boston, going 1-3 with a 11.45 ERA in seven starts.
Ciriaco, a .167 hitter (4 for 24) against Toronto, has never faced Morrow, but Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury have enjoyed plenty of success off the right-hander. Pedroia, who was 0 for 3 with a walk Saturday after missing two games due to the birth of his second son, is 9 for 17 with two homers and four doubles against Morrow, while Ellsbury is 8 for 16 with three home runs.
Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion , among the major league leaders with 40 homers, is 4 for 21 with one homer - a two-run shot in a 10-4 loss at Boston on June 27 - versus Lester.
The Blue Jays are 10-7 against Boston this season, but 3-5 at Rogers Centre.
|Boston Red Sox|
|September 07, 2012||Jarrod Saltalamacchia||Day-to-Day||Left game - back spasms|
|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 25, 2012||Daniel Nava||15-Day DL||Sprained left wrist|
|August 24, 2012||Franklin Morales||60-Day DL||Left shoulder fatigue|
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|September 04, 2012||J.A. Happ||15-Day DL||Fractured right foot|
|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|
TORONTO (AP) -- Jon Lester said it was the best he's thrown all year. Unfortunately for the Boston left-hander, it ended in another loss.
Adeiny Hechavarria hit a two-run home run, Omar Vizquel had two hits and the Toronto Blue Jays beat Lester and the Boston Red Sox 5-0 on Sunday to avoid a three-game sweep.
Lester (9-12) gave up three runs and four hits in seven innings as the Red Sox failed to get their first three-game winning streak since posting four consecutive victories July 28-31.
"I've got to keep looking at those positives and just keep plugging away," Lester said. "Just keep working those things and try to pitch as many innings as I can every time I take the ball."
The game was scoreless until the bottom of the seventh, when Yan Gomes grounded a two-out single up the middle just the second hit allowed by Lester.
Rajai Davis came on as a pinch runner and stole second, then scored on Vizquel's single to center. The base hit was Vizquel's 2,872nd, moving him one behind Hall of Fame slugger Babe Ruth for 41st place on the career list.
"Not even in my wildest dreams was I going to think that you can bring the name of Babe Ruth next to mine," Vizquel said.
Blue Jays manager John Farrell said he'll likely give Vizquel a chance to match Ruth's record when Toronto begins a three-game series at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday.
"I'd be crazy not to," Farrell said. "For him to tie if possible in New York will be very fitting."
Red Sox Bobby Valentine said Vizquel's hit came on Lester's only poor pitch.
"I don't know if he threw a bad pitch except for maybe the curveball to Vizquel," Valentine said. "The whole game he was in and out, doing a heck of a job."
Lester acknowledged that he was "trying to be quick to the plate" with the speedy Davis running the bases.
"As we've seen many times before, when Rajai gets on the bases he can make a lot of things happen," Farrell said.
Hechavarria hammered Lester's very next offering, a cut fastball, hooking it around the foul screen into the second deck in left for his second career home run.
"I thought that cutter was a pretty good pitch," Valentine said. "Not many guys keep that fair in the air."
Brandon Lyon (3-0) pitched 2-3 of an inning for the win. Darren Oliver worked the eighth and Casey Janssen finished as the Blue Jays recorded their ninth shutout.
Toronto pulled away with two more in the eighth off Daniel Bard . Brett Lawrie led off with a double and scored on Colby Rasmus ' single to left, with Rasmus taking second on Ryan Kalish 's error. Rasmus scored two batters later on Moises Sierra 's RBI single off Scott Atchison .
Lester set down the first six batters in order before Vizquel doubled to begin the third, but the Blue Jays didn't get another base runner until Sierra's leadoff walk in the fifth. Sierra was safe at second when Lester threw high to second on Gomes' sacrifice bunt, then had to scamper back to the bag after nearly getting caught in a rundown.
Toronto failed to capitalize when Lester struck out Vizquel and Hechavarria, then got Anthony Gose to ground into a fielder's choice.
Boston put a runner in scoring position three times in the first four innings against Blue Jays right-hander Brandon Morrow but failed to score. The Red Sox stranded men at first and second in the first, left a runner at second in the second and stranded runners at first and second again in the fourth.
"We fired a lot of blanks with men on base today," Valentine said.
Ciriaco had a two-out single off Lyon in the seventh and stole second while Jose Iglesias was batting. When the count got to 2-2 on Iglesias, Valentine brought Daniel Nava on as a pinch hitter. Nava grounded back to the mound on the first pitch.
"Just trying to get a run for Jon, obviously," Valentine said. "Told Daniel if (Ciriaco) steals second, you've got it."
The Red Sox put runners at first and second with one out in the eighth but Ross grounded into a double play.
Morrow gave up four hits in six scoreless innings. He walked one and struck out three.
NOTES: Toronto DH Edwin Encarnacion (sore right big toe) was scratched from the lineup, along with SS Yunel Escobar (illness) and C Jeff Mathis (flulike symptoms). ... Valentine insisted he wasn't trying to be critical when he said Friday that his struggling Red Sox had "the weakest roster we've ever had in September in the history of baseball." On Sunday, Valentine called his earlier comments "a statement of fact because of the injuries and our Triple-A team in the playoffs." ... The Red Sox have not been caught stealing since Aug. 29, swiping 16 straight bases in that time.