TORONTO – For Jon Lester and the Boston Red Sox, a brilliant April ended poorly.
Edwin Encarnacion hit an upper-deck homer in the fifth inning, then connected for a go-ahead homer in the seventh Tuesday night that sent the Toronto Blue Jays over the Red Sox, 9-7.
Lester came in 4-0 in five starts this month but allowed a season-high six runs and six hits in six innings.
“It was one of those nights for me from pitch one,” he said. “I just wasn’t able to repeat the ball down in the zone and that’s big. Curveballs just kind of rolled in there and I didn’t have a very effective change-up.”
Lester had not given up so many runs since the Blue Jays scored 11 times in four innings against him July 22 at Toronto.
“They’ve got a quick-strike offense and they swung the bats very well tonight,” Red Sox Manager John Farrell said of the Blue Jays. “They didn’t miss pitches when they got them on the plate.”
Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia credited the Blue Jays for grinding out at-bats.
“They battled every pitch,” Saltalamacchia said. “There wasn’t too many guys who were swinging at the first pitch, rolling over. They battled, they made him throw.”
Toronto ended a four-game losing streak and avoided the first 18-loss April in club history.
“We showed a lot of guts today, a lot of heart,” Blue Jays Manager John Gibbons said.
David Ortiz homered and drove in four runs for Boston, which had won five straight and was seeking a first 19-win April.
Ortiz is batting .500 with 15 RBI in nine games since coming off the disabled list.
“He’s just done an outstanding job for us,” Farrell said.
Mike Carp and Jonny Gomes also connected for the Red Sox, who head into May with the best record in the majors for the 11th time in team history.
Encarnacion’s pair of two-run shots marked the 10th multihomer game of his career and second this season. He has nine home runs this year.
“Everybody got excited, everybody was happy after the game,” Encarnacion said. “Winning a game like this, that’s what we need right now.”
Encarnacion became the 14th player to reach the upper deck in left field at Rogers Centre, tagging Lester with a shot estimated at 419 feet. Toronto trailed 7-6 when Encarnacion homered off Junichi Tazawa (2-1).
Toronto opened the scoring in the first on Jose Bautista’s RBI double off the center-field wall.
The Blue Jays made it 4-0 with a three-run third, taking advantage of a throwing error by Saltalamacchia. After Toronto loaded the bases, Saltalamacchia tried a pickoff at first but the ball sailed into right field, allowing two runners to score.
Saltalamacchia said the throw was caused by his elbow hitting the facemask of umpire Clint Fagan.
Fagan told the Red Sox the contact happened on Saltalamacchia’s follow-through, and didn’t rule a dead ball.
“He didn’t see it the way we saw it,” said Farrell.
Saltalamacchia said he’s had the same thing happen before.
“I didn’t really make a stink about it because I didn’t really know the ruling on it,” Saltalamacchia said. “Now I know. Once it hits his mask, it’s got to be a dead ball.”