07/10/10 12:40 AM ET
Four homers, seven-run third propel Sox
Youk, Beltre, Cameron, Hall go deep in Francona's 900th win
By James Hall / MLB.com
Losers of four straight, with what appears to be half of their team on crutches, a big win was much needed for this battered and bruised ballclub, which entered Friday two games back of the second-place Rays and five behind the first-place Yankees.
Unfortunately for the Blue Jays, this much-needed win came at their expense, as the Red Sox used four home runs, a seven-run third inning and a solid performance by starter Jon Lester to thump the Jays, 14-3, in front of 27,567 fans Friday night.
With the victory, the Red Sox improved their record to 4-0 this season at Rogers Centre and have won 13 of their last 19 games at their home away from home. The Red Sox's 89 wins at Rogers Centre are more than any other opponent.
The Sox kicked off their offensive assault early with a three-run second off Jays starter Ricky Romero. Mike Cameron, who has started to regain his form, singled in Adrian Beltre for the first run. Cameron finished 3-for-4 with three RBIs, and has collected six hits over his past two contests.
"I think this is just a glimpse of what Cam can do," said Bill Hall. "Everyone knew when he came over what kind of hitter he was. Obviously with the injury it's taken away some of his power, but I think he's starting to relax more and get more range and feel like he can do more on a daily basis."
Hall picked up right where Cameron left off, adding a two-run blast deep to center off Romero for his seventh homer of the season. Hall's big night did not stop there, as he finished with a game-high four RBIs. He too said he is starting to enjoy the friendly confines of Rogers Centre.
"This park, I think, is a pretty good hitters' ballpark when the roof is open," Hall said. "This is my first time ever playing with the roof open, and I didn't know how the ball would travel -- obviously pretty good."
The Sox continued to batter Romero in the third, chasing the left-hander with the bases loaded. This marked the second straight contest in which Romero -- 2 1/3 innings allowing nine runs (five earned) on five hits and three walks -- was unable to pitch beyond the third inning.
"It's something that I've struggled with for the past few starts," Romero said. "My changeup just hasn't been quite as good as it has been in the past. That's the answer that I've been trying to search for."
After Romero's struggles, reliever Brian Tallet was also unable to stop the onslaught, as the Red Sox's determined offense piled on another five runs for a total of seven in the third inning.
The runs did not stop there however, as with a 10-run lead entering the fourth, Kevin Youkilis and Beltre hit back-to-back solo home runs -- the third time this year the duo has accomplished the feat. After a J.D. Drew groundout, Cameron again got in on the action, lacing a ball deep to left for the Red Sox's fourth and final home run.
The last time Boston hit three or more home runs in one inning was May 20, 2009, when Jason Varitek, David Ortiz, Jason Bay and Mike Lowell all homered in the fifth inning against the Blue Jays at Fenway Park.
"We kind of needed that," said manager Terry Francona, who won his 900th big league game. "Not just for guys getting rest but to play with a lead was really good for us tonight. We had a tough series in [St. Petersburg, getting swept in three games], and I know we try and move on like we talked about, but it was nice to let everyone relax a little bit and have some success."
Lester cruised through six innings for the Sox, allowing only two runs on four hits while throwing 96 pitches. The American League All-Star improved to 11-3 with a 2.77 ERA this season.
"I felt OK," Lester said. "Some good, some bad. It all got put behind me when these guys scored a lot of runs for me. I've always said it makes pitching a lot easier when they put up a lot of runs like they did tonight."
While Lester may have been a footnote compared to the offensive explosion, Hall made sure to recognize the young left-hander received his dues.
"Like I said, he's been great all year," Hall said. "He should definitely be the starter in this year's All-Star Game. He's pitched that well and I think he's that dominant, and I think he deserves it. He's done great for us, so hopefully we can maintain this [offense] and keep it going."
Although Friday night's victory marked many positives and a few milestones, Francona in typical fashion was sure to downplay his own accomplishments.
"I'm just glad we won," Francona said. "I don't want to get all shook up about it."
James Hall is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.