TORONTO – Clay Buchholz gave Boston’s overworked bullpen a badly needed breather.

Buchholz pitched eight strong innings, pinch-hitter Mike Lowell drove in the go-ahead run with a bases-loaded walk and the Red Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays 2-1 on Tuesday night.

“He did a great job tonight,” Red Sox Manager Terry Francona said of Buchholz. “He understood where we were.”

It was Boston’s fifth straight victory in Toronto and its fifth consecutive one-run game. The Red Sox are 4-1 in those games.

One night after the teams combined for 25 runs and 34 hits in battering 13 pitchers, starters Buchholz and Shaun Marcum gave the bullpens a break.

“I was glad I was able to go deep in the game today,” said Buchholz, who threw a career-high 117 pitches. “It doesn’t happen like that all the time. You’ve got to be thankful when it does.”

Boston relievers came in having worked an AL-high 70 innings this season.

Buchholz (2-2) allowed one run and seven hits to win for the first time in three starts. He walked two, struck out four and lowered his ERA to 2.19.

He had a game plan against the free-swinging Blue Jays and executed it to perfection.

“I know they swing the bat,” Buchholz said. “Sometimes that will hurt you and sometimes you can make it work for yourself. Tonight I was able to command enough pitches to get through it and get some big outs when I needed them.”

With closer Jonathan Papelbon off after working in three of the past four games, right-hander Ramon Ramirez pitched the ninth for his first save.

“He likes pitching when the game is on the line,” Francona said. “He’s got a little more energy, even in his delivery, and we needed it. Good for him. He did a good job.”

Marcum allowed one run and four hits in seven innings and has four no-decisions in five starts this season. He walked three and struck out five.

Scott Downs (0-3) replaced Marcum in the eighth inning and struck out the first batter, then gave up consecutive singles to Dustin Pedroia and Victor Martinez. Pedroia took third when Kevin Youkilis flied to right, and Downs left after walking J.D. Drew to load the bases.

Kevin Gregg came on to face Lowell, who hit for David Ortiz, and walked him on four pitches, his first walk this season.

“You’ve got to make him earn his way on the base right there,” Gregg said.

Adrian Beltre ended the rally with a liner back to the mound.

The Red Sox won for the first time this season when scoring fewer than three runs. They are 1-7 in those games.

“(Monday) night we’re thinking about onside kicks and field goals,” Francona said. “(Tuesday night) there’s just not much to show for it, except for a win.”

Toronto scored its only run in the first when Fred Lewis singled, took second on a grounder and scored on a two-out double by Vernon Wells.

Boston tied it with a two-out rally in the second. Ortiz walked, went to second on Beltre’s single and scored on a base hit by Jeremy Hermida.

Toronto put runners at first and second with two outs in the fourth and fifth but failed to score.

Drew doubled to begin the seventh and Beltre drew a one-out walk, but Marcum struck out Hermida and got Darnell McDonald on a pop fly.

Wells reached second on Beltre’s throwing error in the eighth but Buchholz struck out Lyle Overbay looking and got Alex Gonzalez to fly out.


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