BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox are now starting to feel like a winning team again.
Jacoby Ellsbury hit a three-run homer, Jarrod Saltalamacchia drove in three runs and Jon Lester pitched six solid innings in an 8-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday.
The win gave Boston consecutive victories for the first time this season. The Red Sox, trendy preseason picks to go to the World Series, began the day 3-10, the worst record in the major leagues. They can win the series against Toronto when Daisuke Matsuzaka faces Ricky Romero in the traditional Patriots Day game Monday.
“That’s great. Tomorrow will be a winning streak,” Boston first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said, breaking into a slight smile. “If we can win tomorrow, we’ll get a roll going into the road trip.”
Boston opened the year 0-6 — all on the road — before coming home April 8 and taking two of three last weekend from the Yankees. They close out a rain-shortened nine-game homestand Monday before heading away for nine games.
“Once it starts to go all together, it’ll be scary,” Saltalamacchia said. “A couple of good days isn’t good enough. We’ve got to put it all together.”
Lester (1-1) gave up one run, six hits and three walks while striking out five. He was pulled with two on and no out in the seventh after an error by shortstop Jed Lowrie. Daniel Bard relieved and Juan Rivera lined into a double play before Yunel Escobar struck out.
Bobby Jenks struck out J.P. Arencibia to end the eighth with two runners on base, and Dan Wheeler got the final three outs to secure the win.
Arencibia had two hits for the Blue Jays, who have lost seven of their last 10.
Boston trailed 1-0 before getting four straight hits off Jesse Litsch (1-1) in the second inning. Saltalamacchia’s RBI single trickled through the second-base hole to tie it after Lowrie and J.D. Drew singled. Ellsbury then belted his homer to right field, a drive that twisted around the Pesky Pole for his team-leading third of the season.
“That was big,” Gonzalez said. “To be able to get a three-run cushion there.”
Asked if his team looked more relaxed at the plate and was having better at-bats, Boston manager Terry Francona said: “Once you win games, it’s easy to say.”
Litsch, making his third start since shoulder surgery last August, allowed six runs — four earned — on eight hits, while striking out five and walking one in six innings.
“The six runs is not what you want to see on the board. If I can take back that home run, I definitely would,” Litsch said. “It was going to be a fastball inside. I fell behind 2-0 and I threw it down the middle and he got me.”
Saltalamacchia, who entered the day hitting just .138 with two RBIs, added a two-run single in the sixth to make it 6-1. That was more than enough for Lester.
The Red Sox added two runs in the eighth off Shawn Camp.
The Blue Jays, relying on stolen bases at a higher rate this season, used some clever baserunning to grab a 1-0 lead in the second. With Rivera on first, Aaron Hill on third and two outs, Rivera broke for second. Saltalamacchia threw to second, Rivera stopped and Hill raced home before Rivera was tagged out after a rundown.
“Lester was his usual self, tough to really generate multiple baserunners or a chance to really tack on any runs after the steal attempt in the second inning,” Toronto manager John Farrell said. Farrell should know, having served as Red Sox pitching coach from 2007 to last season while the left-hander matured into an ace starter.
Carl Crawford, given the day off Saturday to help him relax during his tough start with the Red Sox, was back in the lineup and leading off Sunday. He didn’t hit the ball out of the infield, going 0 for 4 to drop his average to .127.
The left fielder signed a seven-year, $142-millon contract during the offseason.
NOTES: Toronto swiped two bases to raise its total to 21. … Lester had to scurry off the mound as the jagged edge of Escobar’s broken bat came bouncing at him in the fourth. … Lowrie was back in the lineup, batting sixth and playing shortstop after hitting leadoff with a two-run homer in Saturday’s win. “Jed’s so hot right now, I don’t know how you can keep a guy like that out,” Francona said. He went 1 for 4 with an RBI on his 27th birthday. … Toronto’s Corey Patterson had gone 0 for 7 in the series — three on diving plays on grounders by Gonzalez on Saturday — before a double in the third. He entered the weekend 7 for 17 after coming off the DL on April 11. … Monday’s game starts at 11:05 a.m.