BOSTON (AP) — When Jose Bautista homered in the sixth inning against Boston on Friday night, Toronto already led by six and the extra runs seemed to matter only to him.
Even the fan who caught the ball was apparently unaware that the two-run shot was Bautista’s 48th homer of the season — the most in the majors and a Toronto franchise record. By throwing it back on the field, he saved the Blue Jays the trouble of negotiating for it.
“That was pretty nice,” Bautista said. “Pretty lucky for me to have that happen.”
But Bautista’s homer also proved to be key when the Red Sox scored two in the eighth and then two more in the ninth before Victor Martinez, who had already homered twice, came to the plate as the potential tying run. Kevin Gregg needed just two pitches to match a career high with his 32nd save, getting Martinez on a popup to shortstop to end the game.
“You can never have enough runs in this ballpark,” Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. “That’s why you’ve got to keep piling them up.”
Bautista’s sixth-inning homer, which gave Toronto a 10-2 lead, surpassed the 47 homers George Bell hit for the Blue Jays in 1987. The ball cleared the Green Monster and landed in the Monster Seats before it was tossed back on the field and then relayed to the Blue Jays dugout.
Bautista said he spoke with Bell, a fellow Dominican, on the phone recently.
“He’s doing good,” Bautista said. “He sounded proud of me.”
Brett Cecil (13-7) allowed five runs on seven hits and two walks in six innings.
John Lackey (12-11) lasted just 4 1-3 innings, giving up seven runs — six earned — on eight hits, two walks and three hit batters. He struck out three in his fourth consecutive loss, hearing boos from the crowd as he left the field.
“Things kind of snowballed in that inning,” Lackey said. “It is what is: I didn’t pitch well and didn’t give us a chance to win.”
Even so, the Red Sox almost pulled it out.
“If we can stop the bleeding when Lack came out, it would have been really exciting,” manager Terry Francona said. “We just couldn’t put up a zero when we needed to.”
Yunel Escobar had four hits and Adam Lind had three hits and three RBIs for Toronto, which had lost seven of eight but avoided falling below .500 for the first time since the All-Star break.
Martinez homered twice and had five RBIs for Boston, including a second two-run homer that cut Toronto’s lead to 11-7 in the eighth.
Martinez homered in the first to give Boston a 2-0 lead, but the Blue Jays tied it in the second on Lind’s two-run double. Lind also had an RBI double in the fifth, when Toronto scored five more runs.
After Bautista’s shot in the sixth, Martinez added a run-scoring groundout as Boston scored three times in the sixth inning to cut the deficit to 10-5. But the Blue Jays added another run in the seventh on Escobar’s single.
That brought in Tim Wakefield, who at 44 years old and 46 days became the oldest player to appear for the Red Sox in more than 100 years. Carl Yastrzemski was 44 years, 41 days old for his last game; the only Red Sox player older than Wakefield was Deacon McGuire, who was 44 years, 280 days old when he made his last appearance on Aug. 24, 1908.
Toronto second baseman Aaron Hill was hit by a pitch in the second inning and was replaced when the Blue Jays took the field in the bottom of the third. X-rays were negative, and he was diagnosed with a bruised right wrist.
NOTES: Lackey has given up at least five earned runs in 10 of his 30 starts. … It was the sixth multihomer game of Martinez’s career, and third this season. .. The Boston chapter of the BBWAA has named Portland first baseman Anthony Rizzo the winner of the Greg Montalbano Memorial Award as Red Sox minor league player of the year. Rizzo hit .260 with 25 home runs and 100 RBIs in the minors this season, finishing the year with the Double-A SeaDogs. He’ll receive the award at the 72nd annual Boston BBWAA dinner on Jan. 20.