DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP) — J.D. Martinez hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in a three-run ninth inning, and Boston Red Sox rallied to beat the Toronto Blue Jays 8-7 on Thursday night.
Alex Verdugo had an RBI grounder before Martinez connected on his 250th homer. The two-out drive came off Rafael Dolis (1-1), making his second appearance since returning from a right calf injury.
“What an amazing win,” Boston manager Alex Cora said. “There were so many up and downs.”
Martinez shouted and repeatedly pumped his fists while rounding the bases. He stopped a 12-game homerless drought Wednesday.
“It was just a big at-bat,” Martinez said. “Big situation against that team. A team we’re going to be battling with all year. To kind of steal one like that, it’s big for us.”
Phillips Valdez (2-1) went 1 1/3 scoreless innings and Matt Barnes worked the ninth to get his 10th save in 11 chances. After walking Rowdy Tellez, Barnes struck out Danny Jansen with a 98 mph full-count fastball.
Boston (27-18) held onto the AL East lead. Toronto dropped to 10-7 at TD Ballpark, where the Blue Jays have four more home games cause by Canadian government coronavirus travel restrictions. Toronto shifts home games next month to its Triple-A affiliate’s ballpark in Buffalo, New York.
“They’re young and they’re hungry,” Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts said of the Blue Jays. “It’s going to be very tough for you to beat them 1-0 or 2-1. For the most part, they’re always in the game, so it’s very fun to play against them because you know there’s going to be a lot of action.”
Jonathan Davis and Randal Grichuk had RBI singles off Hirokazu Sawamura in the sixth as the Blue Jays went up 7-5. Grichuk’s hit came after Bogaerts made a diving grab on Teoscar Hernández’s two-out grounder, but second baseman Michael Chavis was charged with an error for dropping a flip toss.
A match up of five-game winners turned into offensive fireworks early.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Grichuk had RBI doubles off Nick Pivetta in the first, and the Red Sox had seven straight batters reach with two outs during a five-run second against Steven Matz.
Bobby Dalbec hit an opposite-field three-run homer that struck the right-field pole, and Kiké Hernández and Martinez contributed run-scoring singles.
After Bo Bichette had a second-inning double, Cavan Biggio had an RBI single in a two-run fifth that tied it at 5.
Pivetta allowed five runs, seven hits, two walks and struck out eight in five innings.
Matz, who gave up five runs and 10 hits over six innings, was in line for the win until Dolis blew the save.
“We’re one out away from taking two out of three,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “It’s just one of those games. This game was a roller coaster.”
There was some lighthearted ribbing regarding Boston LHP Eduardo Rodríguez’s lack of hitting prowess (0 for 20, 10 strikeouts) heading into his start Sunday at Philadelphia.
“I would be really happy if he gets one, but I will also be really surprised,” said Bogaerts, who put the chance of Rodríguez getting a hit at 1%.
Cora said he was not confident.
Cora has a rule that players can’t wear earrings but will let Rodriguez do it when he bats to see if it helps.
Cora is looking forward to seeing former Boston president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, who currently holds the same position with the Phillies. The pair were together during the Red Sox’s 2018 World Series championship season
As for Dombrowski’s legacy, Cora said “he won” and “he did it his way, too.”
Red Sox: INF-OF Danny Santana (foot infection) could be called up from Triple-A Worcester shortly.
Blue Jays: Montoyo said CF George Springer (quadriceps) continues his running progression, but needs to be built up more and will require a rehab assignment. … LF Lourdes Gurriel Jr. sat out due to a left knee contusion.
Red Sox: LHP Martín Pérez (1-2) and Philadelphia RHP Aaron Nola (3-3) are Friday night’s starters
Blue Jays: Will face Tampa Bay ace Tyler Glasnow (4-2) Friday night to start their final home series at TD Ballpark. The Rays have won seven straight.
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