TORONTO – No ballpark in baseball has been kinder to Clay Buchholz than Toronto’s Rogers Centre.
David Ortiz homered, Buchholz won his sixth straight start in Toronto and the Boston Red Sox beat the Blue Jays 7-2 Friday night, their fourth victory in five games.
Buchholz (5-2) won for the first time in four starts, giving up two runs, both on solo homers, and six hits in a season-high eight innings. He walked two and struck out seven, also a season high.
“He’s been building to that, that’s for sure,” Red Sox Manager Bobby Valentine said.
“Clay Buchholz was terrific tonight. Extra on his fastball, terrific change-up, changed his angle a little on his breaking ball, threw strikes, very competitive. I like that, he likes that and I expect we can get more of the same.”
Buchholz is the first opposing pitcher to win six straight road starts against the Blue Jays. He has not lost in Toronto since July 17, 2009, and is 6-2 with a 1.72 ERA in eight career starts at Rogers Centre.
Buchholz said he takes no pleasure in facing Toronto, calling them “dangerous,” and credited his confidence for all his strong showings in Canada.
“Whenever I go out there and have a little bit of confidence running through the first two or three innings, it just builds to make you want to go back out there and make good pitches,” Buchholz said.
Valentine said an improved change-up, something that came together for Buchholz three starts ago, has helped bring about his change in fortune.
“I think it’s made all the difference in the world,” Valentine said.
Buchholz found the confidence he needed early in this one. After two straight errors put Blue Jays at first and second in the first, Buchholz battled back from 3-0 down to strike out Jose Bautista.
“Tough mental at-bat there,” said Buchholz, who followed by getting Edwin Encarnacion to ground into a double play.
The victory moved the Red Sox level with the Blue Jays at 27-25, tied for fourth in the AL East and three games behind first-place Tampa Bay.
“The last few weeks we’ve really been picking it up and kind of grinding, playing the way we should be playing, and Buch set the tone,” Boston catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said.
Daniel Nava had three doubles and Adrian Gonzalez had three hits for the Red Sox, who have not lost consecutive games since May 8 and 9 at Kansas City.
Scott Atchison finished in the ninth for the Red Sox.
NOTES: Boston assigned oft-injured right-hander Mark Prior to its Triple-A affiliate in Pawtucket. Prior, who signed a minor league contract with the Red Sox on May 2, had been at extended spring training in Florida. Prior was the second overall pick when he was chosen by the Chicago Cubs in the 2001 amateur draft. He finished third in NL Cy Young Award voting in 2003, after going 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA, but his career was derailed by a serious shoulder injury and other ailments.