BOSTON -- Jed Lowrie Week just happened to coincide with Patriots' Day.
Lowrie, the Majors' hottest hitter, homered and went 4-for-5 to extend his hitting streak to seven games on Monday, once again providing the spark in a 9-1 Red Sox win over the Blue Jays. A day after his 27th birthday, Lowrie is hitting .516, and he received an ovation even after striking out on three pitches in his final at-bat in the eighth.
"I understand [how hot I am]," said the switch-hitting Lowrie, who will likely see more playing time this week with the Sox facing two left-handers in their next games. "Who cares? It's April 18, long season. I'm just going to keep my head down and keep grinding."
After struggling out of the gate, the Red Sox (5-10) find themselves riding a three-game winning streak. More than its seven-run victory from the day before, Boston was in charge from start to finish, with 13 hits and no runs allowed until Tim Wakefield surrendered a home run in the ninth.
Manager Terry Francona got a lot out of an unorthodox lineup that saw J.D. Drew in the leadoff spot. That move immediately paid dividends when Drew tripled to start the game, and things kept rolling from there. Kevin Youkilis and Jacoby Ellsbury both homered in addition to Lowrie. Carl Crawford got his first hit in a week. On the mound, Daisuke Matsuzaka, who was badly knocked around his last time out, threw seven shutout innings of one-hit ball.
Long a friendly holiday for the Red Sox, Patriots' Day could not have felt like more of a departure from an otherwise woeful start to the year. The team left Fenway Park for a flight to Oakland with wins in five of nine on its homestand, including two of three series victories.
"Everyone knows that they're a great team," said Blue Jays starter Ricky Romero, who lasted only 4 1/3 innings. "They have the players, they have the offense. It was just a matter of them getting back on track. I think we're going through the same thing that they were going through offensively."
Little compares to the Boston Marathon, which wrapped up within a couple miles of Fenway Park. The day's best surprise performance, though, might have come from Matsuzaka. Starting in the early 11:05 a.m. ET contest -- abnormal for any day besides Patriots' Day -- Dice-K retired the final 16 he faced after walking Travis Snider with two out in the second, and the only other Blue Jays player to reach base against him was Jose Bautista, on a first-inning single.
The praise for the Sox's fifth starter wasn't tantamount to what Josh Beckett has received of late -- it sounded like cautious optimism, for the most part. Matsuzaka did, after all, allow seven runs in two-plus innings to the Rays a week ago, and the Blue Jays' bats appear to be in a funk.
Still, some praise is more than there was following a two-run, seven-inning outing against the Rays a week ago.
"He threw a lot of strikes," said Francona. "There [were] a couple of points in the game where they got aggressive in the early count. ... I just thought he filled up the strike zone. It didn't always go where he wanted to, but he worked ahead."
Matsuzaka said he had heard the talk that it was possible his rotation spot could depend on Monday's start. Entering the day with a 12.86 ERA, his welcoming at Fenway wasn't the warmest. His teammates were glad he could turn the mood around.
"One thing that was a little shocking was, before the game, he got booed," said Youkilis. "It's funny how he came off the field and everyone was cheering. It's kind of foot-in-the-mouth right there. But it's good, it's good he responded. That's one of the things that's tough right now, is we're starting to play a little bit better and we know it's frustrating for all the fans out there, and we're just as much frustrated, too."
Matsuzaka struck out three and threw 89 pitches, 58 for strikes.
As they've been wont to do this series, the Red Sox jumped out early. Lowrie's two-run single of Romero put Boston ahead 2-0 in the first, and Youkilis' double off the top of the wall in right field set up a David Ortiz RBI single two innings later. Lowrie and Youkilis hit two-run homers in the fifth and sixth, respectively. It was the second on the year for both.
Carl Crawford even got in on the fun. In the sixth, he doubled off the Green Monster to drive in a run for an 8-0 lead. He hadn't had a hit since Dice-K's last start, but did, in the previous at-bat, fly out to the warning track in the same direction.
"At this point, I didn't feel [any] hits coming," Crawford said. "I definitely felt better about my at-bat."
"Everybody in the dugout [was thrilled]," said Francona. "I was happy to see the ball he hit before, because it's a good approach, but then you certainly want to see somebody rewarded for it."
Ellsbury, who also homered Sunday, has the Red Sox lead with four long balls. He made it 9-0 with a solo shot in the seventh. Ellsbury's nearly halfway to his career high in homers -- nine, set in 2008 -- but Francona said he doesn't want the 27-year-old to start thinking about going deep. Francona was pleased, though, that Boston's offense never let up.
"We just kept adding on," he said. "We stayed at them all day. That's a good way to play."