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TOR@BOS: Ellsbury rips a three-run shot in the second

BOSTON -- Three hitters in the Red Sox's lineup entered Sunday batting below the Mendoza line.

Two of the three, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, split the offensive load and led Boston to an 8-1 win over the Blue Jays at Fenway Park.

Saltalamacchia, hitting .182, went 2-for-4, and Ellsbury, hitting .196, notched a team-high third home run of the season. They had three RBIs apiece.

The other of the three, though, is still in a rut. Carl Crawford was hitless in four at-bats.

"Spread the game out, that's exactly what we wanted to do," manager Terry Francona said after his club won back-to-back games for the first time this season. "Jacoby gives us a big lift early and then gave us a chance to spread it out. That's exactly what we need to do."

Only in April could a team double its win total in two days. The 4-10 Red Sox are simply glad it didn't take any longer.

Now, Boston has a chance to win its second series of the season on Monday, in the finale of a four-game set on Patriots Day.

"It's great, tomorrow would be a winning streak," said Adrian Gonzalez, who went 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored. "We still got to go out there and play, but it's one of those things that if we can win tomorrow, we can get good momentum and get going for the road trip."

Jon Lester fired his third straight quality start, but it was the first time this season the left-hander took a victory. The southpaw wasn't pinpoint sharp, and he was helped by two double plays -- one in the second, and one in the third -- as he labored through the early innings. Through three frames, he had thrown 53 pitches.

He settled down and went six-plus innings, allowing one run on six hits and three walks. Lester also struck out five.

"Today obviously wasn't the best control day I've ever had," Lester said. "I battled a few things out there with myself, almost feeling a little too good at times and then going back to not feeling so good. A little bit of a grind, but it was a good win. Guys swung the bat well today, we had a bunch of long at-bats against [Jays starter Jesse] Litsch, and it paid off."

Lester had Daniel Bard, who isn't restricted to eighth-inning usage, to credit for an assist in the seventh.

Starting at shortstop because of his bat, Jed Lowrie booted a potential double-play grounder that put two on with none out. That was Lester's last batter, on his 110th pitch and with Boston ahead 6-1. Bard, called upon for a second straight day, got a double-play liner from Juan Rivera, and he then caught Yunel Escobar looking to end the threat.

Boston had the benefit of three double plays on the day. One came on a broken bat, one of at least three Lester broke, and he had to avoid some shrapnel on the mound. Escobar's bat came spiraling toward him in the third.

"I turned my back and I thought for sure it was going to hit me," Lester said.

The Blue Jays were the first to score, on aggressive baserunning that's become their signature style this series and this season with former Sox pitching coach John Farrell at the helm.

In a first-and-third situation with two down in the second, Rivera broke from first and was caught in a rundown, but not before Aaron Hill scored from third base. Saltalamacchia's throw was poor, but Francona said the call from the dugout was to allow the run to score to get out of the inning.

"In the second inning, we'll take a trade off of a run to come off the field," Francona said. "The Blue Jays are really pushing. You can see the way they're trying to play the game -- they're running, they're running."

Boston again had a big second inning of its own for a second straight game. Three singles in front of Ellsbury set up his homer off Litsch. The hot-hitting Lowrie had the first, his only of the day, and he moved to third on J.D. Drew's knock. Saltalamacchia plated Lowrie to tie things up, and Ellsbury lifted a 2-0 pitch down the middle into the right-field stands to put Boston ahead 4-1.

"I still got a little bit more in me," Ellsbury said when asked if that was the hardest he could hit a ball. "I was sitting on a pitch I could drive and got something I could do something with."

Lester and Litsch both found grooves until Saltalamacchia laced a two-out, two-run double into the right-field corner in the sixth.

"We had an off-day yesterday, or I did, so me and [hitting coach Dave Magadan] talked and figured some stuff out and felt pretty comfortable today," Saltalamacchia said. "[I was] trying to slow it down a little bit, not jumping too much trying to crush the ball every time."

Toronto made a final push when Felix Doubront struggled in the eighth, as the Jays put two on with two down. Bobby Jenks struck out J.P. Arencibia to end the inning.

Dan Wheeler threw a perfect ninth after Boston tacked on two in its final at-bat. Had he needed him, Francona said closer Jonathan Papelbon was available to pitch for a third straight game. Comments