TORONTO — Blue Jays starter Clay Buchholz looked like he had his former team figured out at the start of Thursday’s game against Boston.
The Red Sox soon woke up from a series-long slumber for a 7-4 victory over Toronto that ended a five-game losing streak.
“I did a little bit of my job today, I didn’t do it all,” Buchholz said. “It’s tough to navigate lineups like that.”
Mookie Betts had three hits and scored twice as the Red Sox prevented a three-game sweep at Rogers Centre. Boston (77-70) had 12 hits and took advantage of some sloppy defence by the home side in front of 17,420 fans on a pleasant late-summer evening.
Andrew Benintendi (0 for 4) was the only starter in the Boston batting order without a hit. The Blue Jays (57-90) have dropped eight of their last 10 games.
Buchholz (1-5), who won 81 games for the Red Sox over 10 seasons, was facing his former club for the first time. He breezed through the opening frame, retiring the side on just seven pitches.
Boston got to him an inning later after J.D. Martinez walked and Mitch Moreland singled. Marco Hernandez drove them in with a sinking liner that a sliding Billy McKinney couldn’t squeeze in right field.
The Red Sox made it 3-0 in the third when Martinez drove in Xander Bogaerts with a double. Buchholz gave up three more hits in the fourth, with Jackie Bradley Jr. scoring on a single by Juan Centeno.
“Overall it could have been a lot worse in certain situations out there,” Buchholz said. “But our team battles. They battled back and made it a game. That’s really all you want.”
The veteran right-hander allowed four earned runs and seven hits over four innings. He issued one walk and had four strikeouts.
The youngsters at the top of Toronto’s batting order helped cut into the lead in the fifth. Bo Bichette drew a two-out walk and scored on a Cavan Biggio double.
Biggio, who had three hits, came across on a single by Vladimir Guerrero Jr., whose 113 hits is tops among American League rookies this season.
A pair of defensive blunders hurt Toronto in Boston’s two-run seventh. Right-fielder Anthony Alford’s fielding error allowed Betts to score and Brock Holt to take second base.
Reese McGuire tried to pick off Holt from behind the plate but his throw sailed into centre field. Holt scored on a single by Bogaerts.
Toronto loaded the bases in the eighth after two walks and an infield single. Matt Barnes walked Derek Fisher on four pitches to make it a 6-3 game.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora turned to Brandon Workman — the ninth Boston pitcher of the night — to get Bichette to fly out to end the threat.
Fisher made Toronto’s third error of the game in the ninth as he misjudged the hop from a Betts single. Betts took two extra bases as the ball rolled to the wall and he came home on a Holt single.
“The effort is still there, they’re still working,” Cora said. “The at-bats were a lot better today. We controlled the strike zone a little bit more.”
Biggio scored in the bottom of the ninth on a sacrifice fly before Workman finished things off for his 12th save.
Notes: Boston starter Jhoulys Chacin worked 2 2/3 innings. Josh Taylor (2-2) pitched a clean fourth inning for the win. … Before the game, the Blue Jays reinstated right-hander Elvis Luciano from the 60-day injured list and released left-hander Clayton Richard. … Toronto had seven hits and used six pitchers. … The game took three hours 32 minutes to play. … The Blue Jays welcome the AL East-leading Yankees for a three-game series starting Friday night. Left-hander Anthony Kay (0-0, 3.18) is scheduled to start against New York right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (10-8, 4.53).