TORONTO -- The Blue Jays are finally back in the win column.
Francisco Liriano tossed 5 1/3 scoreless innings while Toronto took advantage of two errors made by Boston's infield to secure a 3-0 victory on Wednesday night at Rogers Centre. That snapped the Blue Jays' mini two-game losing streak but more importantly came following a stretch in which the club went 2-11 for the worst start in franchise history.
Darwin Barney had the key two-run single in the bottom of the third while Ezequiel Carrera followed up Tuesday's pinch-hit homer with an RBI single. Kevin Pillar was the other standout on offense as he chipped in with a 3-for-4 night at the plate and also picked up Toronto's first two stolen bases of the season.
"I didn't try to do too much," said Liriano, who has a tendency to overthrow at times. "I just tried to throw strikes. The defense played really well behind me and like usual I trusted Russell [Martin] and we did a good job." More >>
Boston right-hander Rick Porcello was saddled with the loss but he had a nice bounce-back outing after allowing eight runs over 4 1/3 innings during his last start against the Rays. The three runs against Porcello were unearned as he scattered six hits and a walk over seven innings. After some issues in the second that were not his own doing, Porcello faced three batters over the minimum the rest of his outing and finished with five strikeouts.
"I felt good," said Porcello. "Obviously, that second inning, some things happened, they got some hits with runners on base, but really for the most part the entire game I felt pretty good, I was able to control some of the momentum that they were trying to build. It was a good one to build on."
Liriano pitched into the sixth and allowed just four hits but more importantly, kept the Red Sox off the board. Setup men Joe Biagini and Jason Grilli then combined to toss 2 2/3 scoreless innings while Roberto Osuna picked up his first save of the year with a scoreless ninth.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED The daily double: Liriano enjoyed a strong start but he left a bit of a mess for his bullpen to clean up in the top of the sixth. He departed with a pair of runners on base and just one out. Hanley Ramirez stepped to the plate representing the tying run but any momentum quickly evaporated when Biagini got him to ground into an inning-ending double play. Through six innings, Boston had just two at-bats with runners in scoring position and stranded four men. Biagini tossed a scoreless seventh as well and has allowed one earned run over 11 innings this season.
"It starts with Liriano, who was dynamite," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Then you've got big Joe Biagini who comes in and gets the big double play ball. Grilli did his thing, he hadn't pitched in a while. Osuna looked like he normally looks. Just an all-around good ballgame." More >>
Booting it around: Toronto scored three runs in the second but it never would have been possible without a major assist from Boston's infield. Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval got things started when his throw to first sailed well above the head of Mitch Moreland. One batter later, Moreland made a miscue of his own as he missed a slow chopper that got by his glove and rolled down the first-base line. That put runners on second and third for the Blue Jays, who eventually capitalized on a two-run single by Barney. Before the inning was over, Carrera added a single of his own.
"Panda just, the release point, he sailed one high," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "I thought with Mitch with the turf, kind of a little bit of an odd bounce that ends up uncharacteristically getting through him. You give a team extra outs, we're probably going to pay for it and we did tonight."
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When Mookie Betts struck out in the fourth inning, it snapped a streak of 129 regular-season plate appearances without a strikeout for Boston's star right fielder. It was the longest streak in the Major Leagues since the Marlins' Juan Pierre went 147 straight plate appearances in 2004. More >>
WHAT'S NEXT Red Sox: Lefty ace Chris Sale (1-1, 1.25 ERA) has lived up to all expectations and more to start his career with the Red Sox, allowing a total of three earned runs in his first three starts. He was electric last time out in a win over the Rays, striking out 12 and allowing three hits over seven innings. This time, Sale faces the Blue Jays in the finale of a three-game series, with the first pitch scheduled for 12:37 p.m. ET on Thursday.
Blue Jays: Right-hander Marco Estrada (0-1, 3.50) will take the mound when this series wraps up on Thursday afternoon. Estrada tossed seven scoreless innings during his last start against the Orioles by scattering four hits and three walks to pick up his first victory of the season. He was originally scheduled to pitch Friday but Aaron Sanchez was pushed out of the rotation because of a blister issue.