BOSTON -Daisuke Matsuzaka avoided the one bad inning that plagued him in his last two starts and pitched one of the best games of his career Tuesday night.

Matsuzaka allowed three hits and no walks in seven innings, striking out nine, and the Boston Red Sox capitalized on more wildness by Toronto Blue Jays pitchers for a 6-1 victory.

In his first start this season, Matsuzaka allowed six runs in his last inning. In his second, he gave up four runs in his first inning.

“After that tough beginning to the game last time, I tried to keep things simple and I thought that things improved,” Matsuzaka said through a translator. “I just wanted to keep that going, so from my first pitch tonight I treated it as a continuation of the last game.”

Matsuzaka (2-1) put just three runners on base, the second-lowest total in his 76 career games. The outing was the longest in which he allowed three runners or less.

“He held it together from (inning) one to seven,” Manager Terry Francona said. “All but those two innings have been pretty good.”

Boston won its third straight game and went two games over .500 for the first time this year.

In Matsuzaka’s debut May 1 after starting the year on the disabled list with a strained neck, he gave up one run and one hit in the first four innings and then allowed six runs in the fifth and took the loss. Last Thursday in an 11-6 win over the Los Angeles Angels, he allowed four runs in the first but just one run and three hits in the next 41/3 innings and got the victory.

“He was aggressive and confident in his fastball,” Francona said, “and it showed.”

The only runners reached on a single and double by John Buck, and a double by Fred Lewis. He walked none, while four Toronto pitchers issued eight bases on balls one night after the Red Sox drew seven walks in a 7-6 win.

Dana Eveland (3-2) gave up all of Boston’s runs in four-plus innings, when he allowed five hits and four walks and hit a batter.

“I really only gave up two hard-hit balls,” he said, “but you mix those in with some walks and a couple of balls that hit the chalk and stuff like that, you’re going to get beat.”

Boston took a 2-0 lead in the first when Marco Scutaro led off with a walk and took third on Dustin Pedroia’s ground-rule double. Scutaro scored on J.D. Drew’s groundout to first and Pedroia came in on Kevin Youkilis’ sacrifice fly. Jason Varitek’s sixth homer made it 3-0 in the second.

The Red Sox took advantage of botched plays in the fourth.

Varitek reached when his grounder went through the legs of Jose Bautista. Bill Hall then lofted a high fly to short center field that left fielder Lewis, center fielder Vernon Wells and shortstop Alex Gonzalez let fall between them. Wells picked the ball up with a good chance to throw to second for a forceout on Varitek, but threw wildly.

Darnell McDonald then doubled in Varitek.


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