BOSTON — Clay Buchholz expected to hand the ball to Bobby Valentine when the Red Sox manager made a ninth-inning visit to the mound.
Valentine, however, was only checking on Buchholz, not pulling him from the game.
“I just wanted to make sure he believed like I did, that he had enough. He said, ‘Guaranteed,'” Valentine said of his conference with Buchholz with one out in the ninth. “All year long, Clay’s been totally honest with me every chance. After eight, he felt great. He wasn’t really stressed there in the ninth.”
Buchholz remained in the game until Omar Vizquel hit a sacrifice fly to left, driving in the go-ahead run and Toronto held on for a 4-3 win.
The reeling Red Sox have lost 11 of their past 12 games and are in last place in the AL East.
Buchholz (11-6) allowed four runs on seven hits over 8 2-3 innings, walking three and striking out four.
Rajai Davis started the ninth-inning rally with a blooper and Anthony Gose followed with another single, prompting Valentine to visit him on the mound.
Buchholz had thrown 113 pitches and believed that was it.
“I thought he was coming out to get me and he was like, ‘Oh, I was just coming to check on how you were doing,'” he explained. “I was like, ‘Go back to the dugout and I’ll try to get a ground ball double play right here.'”
After intentionally walking pinch-hitter Kelly Johnson, Buchholz left a cutter over the middle of the plate that Vizquel drove just deep enough to left to score Davis from third, ending Buchholz’s afternoon.
“If somebody’s going to give up the runs, I’d rather it be me, because I know when relievers come in, they give up the inherited runs, they feel pretty bad about it,” Buchholz said. “I’d rather put it all on me and that’s what I did.”
Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia homered for the Red Sox.
Reliever Brandon Lyon (2-2) got the win and Casey Janssen picked up his 20th save.
Toronto entered the series in last place in the AL East but left Fenway Park two games ahead of the Red Sox. The Blue Jays have won four straight overall and six in a row against Boston.
James Loney singled to open the Boston ninth and Cody Ross nearly won it on a drive to left that was just foul. Ross ended up striking out on a pitch he felt was outside enough that he was trotting toward first when umpire Clint Fagan called it a strike.
Ellsbury flied out to deep center for the second out, then Mike Aviles hit a foul pop that catcher Jeff Mathis got under easily to complete the sweep for the Blue Jays.
NOTES: Boston activated OF Daniel Nava, who had been out since Aug. 25 with a sprained left wrist that has been nagging him this season. Nava pinch hit to lead off the eighth and grounded out. … The Red Sox are in last place in the AL East, marking the latest in a season they have held at least a share of last place since September 1997 … Boston 3B Will Middlebrooks, on the DL with a right wrist fracture since Aug. 11, turned 24 Sunday. … Toronto tied a franchise single-season record with its sixth straight win against Boston, matching the club record set from June 2-11, 1988. … The Blue Jays improved to 10-5 against the Red Sox this season, clinching their first season series victory against Boston since 2006.