900th career win
Run of the place
Sox turn it around in Toronto
TORONTO — The Red Sox arrived at Rogers Centre last night having lost four straight games, the last three at Tampa Bay. To outsiders, the idea that their many injuries were finally having an effect on the standings had increasing validity.
But the players rejected that notion, shooting down questions that suggested the team’s mission was to hold on until the missing stars returned.
“We’re not trying to keep afloat, we’re trying to win,’’ first baseman Kevin Youkilis said. “There’s no trying to hold down the fort. It’s not like that. We’re trying to go out and beat the opposition. There’s no trying to take two out of three. We’re trying to win every game.’’
The Blue Jays were witness to that. Bill Hall had two doubles, a home run and four RBIs as the Red Sox rolled to a 14-3 victory.
“We kind of needed that,’’ said Terry Francona, whose team scored two more runs last night than it had in the four losses. “Playing with a lead was really good for us tonight. We had a tough series. I know we kind of move on, but it was nice to let everybody relax a little bit and have a little bit of success.’’
The game matched the top two home run-hitting teams in baseball and they combined for six more — four by the Sox — as Youkilis, Adrian Beltre, and Mike Cameron also connected.
“It was a good night,’’ said Hall, who has replaced the injured Dustin Pedroia at second base. “They were struggling to throw strikes and we got in a lot of hitter’s counts. Good teams take advantage of that.’’
Cameron was 3 for 4 with a walk and three RBIs. The center fielder is hitting .348 with three home runs and 12 RBIs in his last 14 games, proof that the torn muscle in his lower abdomen has healed enough for him to become the productive player the Sox envisioned when they signed him.
“It’s always good to have a good feeling about your body. Some days are better than others but I try and battle through,’’ Cameron said. “I’m just trying to enjoy it while it does allow me to go out and play.’’
Jon Lester had a rocking-chair win, going six innings to improve to 11-3. He allowed two runs on four hits with two walks and six strikeouts. The lefthander, who hopes his next appearance comes in the All-Star Game Tuesday, appreciated the run support.
“I’ve always said it makes pitching easier when they put up a lot of runs like they did tonight,’’ Lester said. “You try and get the guys back in the dugout as quickly as possible so they can keep swinging it.’’
Toronto starter Ricky Romero (6-6) was coming of one of the worst starts of his career, having allowed eight runs in 2 2/3 innings against the Yankees last Saturday. It didn’t get any better against the Sox as the lefty lasted only 2 1/3 innings and gave up nine runs, five earned.
Romero actually retired the first four in order before Beltre doubled. Cameron followed with an RBI single then Hall hit a two-run homer to right field.
It was an impressive display of strength by Hall, who swung at a high fastball and drove it deep to the opposite field. It was his seventh home run of the season.
“The ball to right-center was beautiful,’’ Francona said.
Hall had more appreciation for the two doubles he softly lined to right. He has been waiting for those kind of hits to fall.
“Those are huge for confidence,’’ Hall said. “I’ve been swinging the bat good and not having a lot to show for it.’’
The Red Sox sent 12 batters to the plate in the third inning, scoring seven runs.
Marco Scutaro and Darnell McDonald singled before David Ortiz drew a walk to load the bases. The onslaught started innocently enough when Youkilis hit a sacrifice fly to left field.
Beltre walked to load the bases again. J.D. Drew followed with a ground ball to first base. Lyle Overbay hesitated before throwing wildly to the plate and McDonald scored.
Cameron walked to force in a run. That was the end of the night for Romero.
Hall’s sacrifice fly to deep center off Brian Tallet scored Beltre. After Kevin Cash walked to load the bases again, Scutaro and McDonald followed with singles to drive in three more runs.
Tallet stayed in the game for the fourth inning and gave up solo home runs to Youkilis (left field), Beltre (center), and Cameron (left).
It was the first time the Sox hit three home runs in an inning since May 20, 2009 when Ortiz, Jason Bay, and Mike Lowell connected against Toronto’s Brett Cecil at Fenway.
“That was probably one of the worst games we’ve had all year for me. It was not a lot of fun,’’ Jays manager Cito Gaston said.