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BOS@TOR: Adrian hammers an RBI single into center

TORONTO -- Clay Buchholz arrived in Toronto shortly before 7 a.m. ET on Friday morning with the odds seemingly stacked against him.

His initial flight was delayed and eventually canceled, he was scratched from his last start with an injury and his teammates had just drudged through a rain-delayed victory over the Yankees on Thursday night that ended a mere 18 hours before Friday's first pitch.

And -- the cherry on the sundae -- he had a blister on his throwing hand.

But none of that seemed to matter, as the 26-year-old right-hander spun seven strong innings of three-hit ball to dispose of the Blue Jays, 5-1, in the opener of a three-game set at Rogers Centre.

It was likely Boston's grittiest game on their current seven-game winning streak, considering the team arrived right around sunrise and hardly slept a wink ahead of the night's festivities.

"I think everybody's tired, I know I was," Red Sox manager Terry Francona admitted after the game. "But it was a workmanlike night. I think Buch had a lot to do with that because he kept them off the board."

Buchholz was as good as he's been all season, using his two-seamer and breaking ball to keep Toronto's hitters off balance and digging deep to earn four of his six strikeouts with runners in scoring position.

It was a much-needed rebound for Buchholz, who was rocked by the A's in his last start and missed Wednesday's scheduled outing in the Bronx with a sore back.

Francona mercifully sent his starter to the airport Thursday night so he could get out of New York ahead of the rest of the team, which was still playing baseball past 1 a.m. ET. But Buchholz arrived at the airport to find his flight grounded and had to wait for the team's red-eye charter in the early hours of the morning.

Just add that to the pile of inconveniences -- especially the nagging blister on his right middle finger, which he said feels like a splinter.

With all the extenuating circumstances, it would not have been a surprise if Friday night's performance fell a little flat. But the Red Sox -- Buchholz, especially -- were anything but.

"Once you step between the lines, everything usually just stops for you and you can run on some adrenaline," Buchholz said. "That's what I went out there doing. The session before the game wasn't as good as I would like it to be, but as soon as a hitter steps in the box, it changed for us."

Buchholz was nearly untouchable his first time around the batting order; cruising through three innings and allowing just one baserunner on an error.

After yielding a sacrifice fly to Juan Rivera in the fourth, Buchholz worked a perfect fifth and allowed two baserunners in the sixth, but he worked his way out of the inning unscathed. Two Blue Jays reached base again in the seventh, this time with just one out, but Buchholz struck out pinch-hitter Edwin Encarnacion and induced a popup in foul territory from Mike McCoy to tiptoe his way out of trouble.

In all, the Blue Jays put two runners on base in the fourth, sixth and seventh innings, but each time, Buchholz managed to work his way out of the jam.

"Clay did a good job getting some big outs when he needed too. That's a key to winning these ballgames," said leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury, who went 3-for-5 with three runs scored. "We scored five runs, but to get out of those key jams -- that's crucial."

Jo-Jo Reyes took the loss for the Blue Jays, giving up eight hits and four earned runs over 6 1/3 innings.

The Red Sox first got to Reyes in the third when Jarrod Saltalamacchia -- playing through a severe stomach ailment -- opened the inning with a bloop single that fell in front of a diving Jose Bautista in right field. Ellsbury worked a 3-1 count and lined a Reyes fastball into deep left field for a ground-rule double, pushing Saltalamacchia to third.

Dustin Pedroia's infield single scored Saltalamacchia, while Ellsbury crossed the plate when Adrian Gonzalez grounded into a 6-4-3 double play for an early 2-0 lead.

"It's fun when the offense is putting up runs and we can get guys on and do some things," Ellsbury said. "It's always nice to put some pressure on pitchers early in the game."

Toronto cut the lead in half in the fourth before Boston added two more in the fifth. Four straight Red Sox batters reached base in the inning, including Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis, who hit back-to-back RBI singles. Gonzalez plated Ellsbury with a double in the ninth, good for his Major League-leading 57th RBI.

"They got some key hits at the right times," Reyes said. "I've got to make better pitches next time. Youkilis -- I had him 0-2 and he got a base hit. If I had one at-bat to take back, that would be it."

Pedroia played well in spite of his bruised right knee, going 3-for-4 with a walk, an RBI and a run scored after missing Thursday's contest. That pushed his hit streak to five games and gave him a .370 average in the month of June.

Pedroia and Ellsbury -- who has an eight-game hit streak and a .447 June batting average of his own -- have been providing much of the table-setting from the top of the batting order. The duo's constant presence on base has allowed the No. 3 hitter, Gonzalez, to pick up at least one RBI in seven consecutive games -- a total of 11 over that span.

But while those numbers are nice to have, all the Red Sox want to get is a little sleep. Saturday's 1:07 p.m. ET start is another nine innings or more on this tiring three-city road trip.

"We know they're not going to feel sorry for us," Ellsbury said. "We're just going to go out there and compete." Comments