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Red Sox Move Out Of Last Place With Defeat of Blue Jays

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Jarrod Saltalamacchia (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Jarrod Saltalamacchia (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

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TORONTO (AP) _ As a tumultuous and disappointing season draws to
a close, the Boston Red Sox are starting to see hopeful signs for
the future.

Pedro Ciriaco drove in the tiebreaking run with a two-out double
in the ninth inning Saturday, Cody Ross hit a solo homer and the
Red Sox won their second straight, beating the Toronto Blue Jays
3-2.

“It’s a good sign we’re not laying down and dying,” said
catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who scored the go-ahead run. “We’re
continuing to fight even though we’re as far out as we are. It
shows a lot about this team. It’s a good sign.”

The victory moved Boston out of last place in the AL East,
percentage points ahead of the Blue Jays, who have played two fewer
games.

After stranding runners at third base three times in the
previous five innings, the Red Sox finally broke through in the
ninth. Saltalamacchia led off with a double against Steve Delabar
(4-2), Ryan Lavarnway struck out and Saltalamacchia moved to third
on Mike Aviles’ flyball. Ciriaco followed with a double to left.

Manager Bobby Valentine praised Ciriaco, whose hit boosted his
average to .300.

“His at-bats are as good as anyone on the team,” Valentine
said. “Everyone knows he can hit a fastball and he hits a 2-1
breaking ball. He’s a good player.”

Craig Breslow (1-0 AL, 3-0) worked one inning for the win and
Andrew Bailey finished for his fourth save in five chances.

“I wish I had him all year,” Valentine said of Bailey, who
missed 116 games after right thumb surgery. “He’s pitching with
confidence. He’s not afraid to challenge a hitter.”
Bailey said the experience Boston’s young players are getting
this year could be beneficial next season.

“Those younger guys are definitely learning some great
experiences and great things going into next year that will help us
out in whatever role they play.”

Boston’s past three victories have seen the winning run scored
in their last at-bat. Jacoby Ellsbury singled home Ciriaco in the
ninth inning of Tuesday’s 4-3 win over the Yankees, and Mauro Gomez
hit a two-run triple in the ninth inning of Friday’s 8-5 win at
Toronto.

The Red Sox loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth but
failed to score. Delabar fell behind 3-0 on Ross but came back to
strike him out, then got James Loney to pop up to end the threat.
Boston also stranded runners at the corners in the fourth and
left a runner at third in the seventh.

The Blue Jays took the lead with a two-out rally in the first.
Edwin Encarnacion walked, went to third on Adam Lind’s double and
scored on Yunel Escobar’s single. Third base coach Brian
Butterfield waved Lind home as well, but Lind was thrown out at the
plate to end the inning.

Ross tied it with a leadoff homer in the second, his 21st, and
the Red Sox took a 2-1 lead in the fourth on Saltalamacchia’s
two-out RBI single to center.

Toronto tied it again in the fifth. Anthony Gose led off with a
single and stole second before Rajai Davis reached on a fielding
error by Ciriaco. Both runners moved up on Brett Lawrie’s sacrifice
bunt and Encarnacion was walked to load the bases for Lind, who hit
a sacrifice fly to shallow center, with Gose streaking home ahead
of Ellsbury’s throw. Ellsbury was charged with an error when the
ball bounced away from Saltalamacchia, allowing the runners to move
up, but Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz escaped by getting Escobar to
ground out.

Buchholz failed to extend his six-start winning streak at Rogers
Centre, giving up two runs, one earned, and four hits in seven
innings. He walked five, one intentional, and struck out five.

“He threw the ball exceptionally well,” Valentine said. “Good
fastball down, really good curveball today and split.”
Buchholz, who had lost three of his previous four starts, was
encouraged by the strong outing.

“It feels good,” he said. “It’s a shame it didn’t happen at
the beginning of the season when I wanted it to, or expected it
to.”

Toronto’s Carlos Villanueva, who had won just once in his
previous eight starts, didn’t figure in the decision but was sharp
in this one, matching his longest start of the season by allowing
two runs and four hits in seven-plus innings. He walked two and
struck out six.

“He’s been very consistent,” Blue Jays manager John Farrell
said. “On the days he starts for us, he’s dependable. We know what
we’re going to get from Carlos and that’s typically four pitches
for strikes and keeping the game in control and he did it again
today.”

NOTES: 2B Dustin Pedroia returned to Boston’s lineup after
missing the past two games. Pedroia left after six innings
Wednesday when his wife went into labor with the couple’s second
son, Cole. … Of Ross’s 21 homers this season, 11 have either tied
the score of given Boston the lead. … Red Sox manager Bobby
Valentine said he would like to add an extra outfielder once
International League champions Pawtucket finish their season with
Tuesday’s Triple-A championship game against the Pacific Coast
league winners.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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