BOSTON — Red Sox manager Alex Cora went to reliever Brandon Workman in the eighth inning and knew what his options were for his beleaguered bullpen when things got tight in the ninth.
“It’s either him or him,” said Cora after Workman threw 45 pitches and got out of a jam each inning as Boston held on for a 5-4 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays Wednesday night.
“He’s been outstanding all season,” Cora said of the right-hander, who has a 1.84 ERA. “He’s been one of the top relievers in the league, too. I think he should have been (at the All-Star Game).”
Rafael Devers hit a solo homer and drove in four runs, Eduardo Rodríguez pitched effectively into the seventh inning and the Red Sox sent Toronto’s Aaron Sanchez to his 13th straight loss.
Workman struck out Justin Smoak and Freddy Galvis with two on to end the eighth and got the final three outs despite giving up a run in the ninth for his fifth save, striking out Randal Grichuk swinging with two on to end it.
Boston’s pen has struggled most of the season, blowing 18 save opportunities.
Devers also had a two-run double and RBI single, Brock Holt added a run-scoring hit – one of his three singles – for the Red Sox, who had dropped three of four since a five-game winning streak.
Teoscar Hernández hit two solo homers over the Green Monster and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. had one for the Blue Jays, who have lost seven of 10.
Rodríguez (11-4) held the Blue Jays to two runs on three hits, striking out four and walking three over 6 1/3 innings. It’s the seventh time in 10 starts he’s allowed two or fewer runs – and the fourth straight.
“For me, I just try to go out there and get innings,” Rodríguez said. “I try to get as deep as I can in the game.”
Once dominant, right-hander Sanchez (3-14) had his miserable season continue. He gave up four runs and eight hits in five innings and his ERA rose to 6.26; while he remained winless in his last 15 starts.
“He has been pitching better,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “I know four runs doesn’t sound that great, but he kept us in the game. In a place like this, I thought he did a good job.”
Devers homered into the first row of Monster seats, breaking a 1-1 tie in the third after Hernández had homered deep into the seats above the left-field wall in the top of the inning.
In the fourth, Devers doubled into the right-center gap to make it 5-1 after Christian Vázquez and Mookie Betts singled, but Hernández hit his second of the game the next inning. Devers added his run-scoring single in the eighth.
“He might be a batting champion one of these years, for sure. I’m making that call,” Montoyo said of Devers.
The start was delayed 33 minutes by rain.
The Blue Jays announced before the game that they acquired RHP Wilmer Font from the Mets for cash considerations. Montoyo said he plans to use him as an opener after he gets his work visa and joins the team.
Reliever Matt Barnes entered with runners on first and second with one out in the seventh. After walking Hernández, he struck out pinch hitter Danny Jansen and Eric Sogard – both swinging.
Both center fielders – Boston’s Jackie Bradley Jr. and Hernández – played caroms of the wall and made long throws to nail a runner trying to get a double. Bradley got Smoak and Hernández cut down Vázquez.
Blue Jays: Closer Ken Giles, who suffered nerve inflammation in his right elbow during a massage at the All-Star break, worked the eighth after feeling good following a bullpen session Tuesday. . LHP Ryan Borucki (elbow discomfort) had a rehab start with Triple-A Buffalo Tuesday. “I heard he pitched good and he feels good,” Montoyo said.
Red Sox: RHP Nathan Eovaldi (surgery recovery, loose body right elbow) is set to go on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket Thursday after pitching in a simulated game against Sam Travis and Mitch Moreland before thunderstorms moved into the area. . Manager Alex Cora said Moreland (strained right quadriceps) is expected to go on a rehab assignment Friday.
Blue Jays: LHP Thomas Pannone (2-3, 6.18 ERA), a native of Cranston, R.I., is expected to be recalled from Buffalo and start Thursday afternoon’s series finale, but his fight from Buffalo was canceled and the club is still trying to get him in for the game.
Red Sox: LHP Chris Sale (3-9, 4.27) looks to turnaround his rough season. He’s allowed five runs in three straight starts for the first time in his career.