The Toronto Blue Jays had one solid chance to get to Rick Porcello on Wednesday night.
But a fluke play worked out in the Boston starter’s favour and the Red Sox went on to win 7-1 for a three-game sweep over the struggling Blue Jays.
With the bases loaded and one out in the fourth inning, Porcello snared a hard-hit line drive from Darwin Barney, then struck out Raffy Lopez to end the threat.
Asked if Barney’s line drive could have been a turning point had it snuck through, manager John Gibbons replied: “There’s no doubt about it.
“Who knows what difference that might have made.”
Instead, Porcello continued to shut Toronto’s hitters down, retiring nine straight after Barney’s liner before issuing a two-out walk to Lopez in the seventh.
“That was a momentum-stopper,” Porcello said. “It was a big inning for us.”
The loss, Toronto’s fourth straight and 10th in 12 games, put them 11 games under .500 at 61-72, tying a season-low.
The Blue Jays, who showed flashes of playoff potential just weeks ago, opened Wednesday 7 ½ games back of a wild-card spot.
“Obviously it’s been real tough,” Gibbons said of the ugly losing stretch. “But we haven’t played good enough baseball lately. So deal with it, what else are you going to do, right?”
Porcello (9-15), last year’s AL Cy Young winner, went 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball with six hits, two walks and seven strikeouts. The 28-year-old right-hander has gone at least six innings in 25 straight road starts, the longest active streak in the majors.
Pinch-hitter Mitch Moreland led the way offensively with four RBI’s.
Moreland, in to pinch hit for designated hitter Chris Young in the seventh, followed a Hanley Ramirez double by drilling a fastball from reliever Tom Koehler (1-7) into the second deck in right field to give the visitors a 3-1 lead.
He was at it again in Boston’s four-run eighth inning, lacing a soft line drive to centre off Aaron Loup to plate two more.
Ramirez also homered for the AL East-leading Red Sox (76-57), going deep for the second time in as many nights. Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts added RBI doubles.
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