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Red Sox 3, Blue Jays 1: Ace-like Buchholz carries Sox past Jays

The Jays had been a thorn in Clay Buchholz' side this year, but he finally exorcised that demon Monday night with eight excellent innings and a win.

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Blue Jays are the best offensive team in Major League Baseball. From the most basic measurement--runs--to the more complex--wRC+--the Jays entered Monday night's game on top. And in his first three starts against them this season, that had shone through against Clay Buchholz. Against teams not based in Toronto, Buchholz' ERA sat at a cool 3.12. Against the Jays? 7.07.

Well, that ERA is still not exactly a sterling figure after tonight, but he certainly brought it down quite a ways. Behind eight innings of one-run ball from the pitcher increasingly known as "the ace," the Red Sox took a 3-1 win over the Blue Jays--their first consecutive wins in a week and a half.

Buchholz made it known from the beginning this start against Toronto was going to be different. Eight pitches got him strikeouts of Jose Reyes and Josh Donaldson, with the ever-dangerous Jose Bautista grounding out behind them to end the first. He nearly stumbled with two outs in the second, hitting Russell Martin and allowing a double to left to Kevin Pillar. But Alejandro De Aza got the ball back in to the infield quickly, trapping Martin between third and home to keep Buchholz clean.

With the scoreless tie preserved, the Red Sox went about building a lead in the third. R.A. Dickey couldn't get a third strike on Jackie Bradley Jr., instead issuing him a free pass after getting ahead in the count 1-2, with a ground ball single from Mookie Betts moving him to second. Another walk, this time to Brock Holt, served to load the bases for Xander Bogaerts, who stayed hot at the plate by shooting a "fastball" that stayed middle-middle to the base of the wall in right for a two-run double.

The Red Sox somehow didn't manage to make any more of that inning despite having runners on second and third and three outs to go, with David Ortiz, Pablo Sandoval, and Mike Napoli producing nothing more than a series of pop-ups between them. But after another pair of scoreless frames from Clay Buchholz, Mookie Betts set up a third Boston run in the fifth by sending a line drive into the gap in left-center and racing around to third, scoring on a single from Brock Holt.

From there, it was up to Buchholz to hold the lead he had been given. He manage that for the most part. Devon Travis led off the sixth with an infield single and scored when Josh Donaldson doubled into left with two outs to cut the lead to 3-1, but Pablo Sandoval started a 5-4-3 double play to end the seventh after a one-out single, and the eighth saw no trouble from the Jays. That left just the ninth and Koji Uehara to handle it 1-2-3 with a trio of weak fly balls.