BOSTON – Toronto Manager John Gibbons was most impressed by the power. Jose Bautista enjoyed his throw to the plate a bit more.
Either way, Bautista helped the Blue Jays bounce back with a 6-2 win over the Red Sox on Saturday.
Bautista hit a pair of long homers over the Green Monster, starting with the 200th of his career and following with a tiebreaking, two-run drive off Junichi Tazawa in the eighth inning.
His sixth-inning throw to the plate cut down Shane Victorino on Dustin Pedroia’s single to medium-deep right.
Gibbons could only pause, lean back in his chair and smile when asked what impressed him most — the two homers or throw.
“Any time you hit two home runs in close ballgames I have to give it to that,” he said. “Homers win.”
Bautista put Toronto ahead 2-0 with a solo homer in the sixth, a drive that cleared a billboard at the back of the Monster seats and had the crowd buzzing. He stood at the plate briefly, admiring the ball’s flight.
“I knew I was one away so when I was in the dugout I did enjoy it,” he said, adding a Red Sox parking lot employee retrieved the ball for him.
But it was his throw that made the slugger happiest.
“It’s more difficult and more rare to throw people out on the bases,” he said. “Anytime I do that I enjoy it a lot more.”
After Victorino’s two-run single against Steve Delabar (5-1) tied the score in the seventh, Bautista followed Jose Reyes’ leadoff single in the eighth with a drive off Tazawa (4-3) that went off the base of a light tower in left-center. Bautista has 18 home runs this season and 21 career multihomer games.
The Red Sox had another runner cut down in the seventh. Jarrod Saltalamacchia was out at the plate when pitcher Darren Oliver’s throw home beat him on Jonathan Diaz’s squeeze bunt.
Boston Manager John Farrell knows how much Bautista can affect a game, having managed the Blue Jays the past two seasons.
“Very good player. Obviously capable of hitting balls out of the ballpark every time he steps in the box,” he said. “He gets a 2-0 cutter from (Felix) Doubront for the first solo home run, and then as I mentioned on the split the other way from Tazawa. We looked to put pressure on the defense in that situation. Bautista is ranging to his right, comes up and throws about a 260-foot strike to cut down Victorino.”
Victorino knew it was an accurate throw but didn’t feel like it should be the main focus.
“Plays like that change scenarios,” he said. “But we were able to come back and tie the game. Let’s look at that on the positive side of things.”
Toronto, which lost the opening two games of the four-game series, stopped Boston’s four-game winning streak. The Red Sox had 10 or more hits for the seventh time in eight games.
Reyes boosted the lead with an RBI single in the ninth against Craig Breslow and scored from first on an error by Diaz at third.
Delabar struck out four in 12/3 innings. Blue Jays starter Esmil Rogers allowed six hits in six scoreless innings.
Boston’s Felix Doubront gave up two runs, five hits and three walks in 61/3 innings.
Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus made a run-saving diving catch of Diaz’s liner in the fifth.
“Two great plays,” Rogers said of Rasmus’ and Bautista’s gems. “I’m going to owe them something. I don’t know what.”
Adam Lind’s RBI had put the Blue Jays ahead in the first.
NOTES: Farrell doesn’t expect SS Stephen Drew, who left Friday’s game after aggravating his right hamstring, to go on the DL. … Reyes is 3 for 17 since coming off the DL. … Diaz was promoted to the 40-man roster before the game, when RHP Clayton Mortensen was designated for assignment. Diaz batted ninth and was 0 for 3 with a run scored in his major league debut. … There was a fairly loud contingent of Toronto fans, chanting “Let’s Go Blue Jays” with many blue jerseys sprinkled behind Toronto’s bullpen. … Bautista and Rajai Davis each stole off Doubront without an attempted throw from Saltalamacchia. Davis stole twice for the second straight game. … Toronto LHP Mark Buehrle (4-5, 4.73 ERA), who took a shutout into the eighth inning his last time pitching in Fenway, is slated to face RHP Ryan Dempster (5-8, 4.15 ERA) in the series finale on Sunday.