TORONTO (AP) — Chris Sale’s latest gem got the Red Sox to the midway point with their best record of the season.
Sale pitched seven shutout innings to win his third straight decision, Xander Bogaerts had three RBIs and Boston beat the Toronto Blue Jays 7-1 on Saturday.
Sale (11-3) struck out 11, boosting his major league-leading total to 166. He’s 2-0 with 24 strikeouts in 15 scoreless innings against the Blue Jays this season, beating them twice north of the border.
“Chris threw another great performance,” acting manager Gary DiSarcina said. “He’s been really good here (in Toronto). He did a great job and he saved the bullpen, too.”
First-place Boston (46-35) is 11 games above .500 for the first time, and Sale expects better things in the second half.
“It’s going to be fun when we get going,” he said. “It says a lot about our guys and our team that we’ve battled through some things schedule-wise, injury-wise and things like that. When we start putting it together, it’s going to be a scary thing.”
Mookie Betts walked three times and scored three runs for the Red Sox, who have won five of six. Hanley Ramirez had three hits.
Sale has struck out 11 or more five times in his 17 starts.
“He’s been unbelievable to play behind and just to get to know him as a guy,” Dustin Pedroia said.
Blaine Boyer pitched the eighth and Robby Scott gave up Steve Pearce’s solo home run in the ninth.
Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a two-out, two run double in the first and Pedroia did the same in the second. Bogaerts had a sacrifice fly in the fifth and added a two-run single off Lucas Harrell in the ninth.
Sale said he appreciated being given an early advantage.
“It’s huge,” he said. “I haven’t even thrown a competitive pitch and I’ve got a two-run lead.”
The Red Sox stole three bases, with Deven Marrero and Betts executing a double steal in the second. Boston is 12-0 this season when stealing multiple bases, and has won 13 such games going back to last season.
Blue Jays left-hander Francisco Liriano (4-4) allowed five runs in six innings. Liriano has not won consecutive starts this season.’
“I didn’t make pitches when I needed to,” Liriano said.
Last-place Toronto has lost seven of nine. They’re 2-6 in their past eight at home.
The Blue Jays put runners at second and third with one out in the sixth, but Sale got Troy Tulowitzki to bounce back to the mound, then retired Pearce on a pop fly to first.
Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin stayed in the game after being hit on the helmet by a pitch from Boyer in the eighth. Martin also got hit on the foot by Sale in the sixth.
Toronto’s Josh Donaldson struck out four times, the fourth time in his career he’s done so. He last did it in 2015.
SKIPPER WATCHES SON
Manager John Farrell was away from the team Saturday. With the blessing of GM Dave Dombrowski, Farrell flew to Kansas City to watch son Luke make his major league debut against Minnesota. The 26-year-old righty allowed five runs and seven hits in 2 2/3 innings. Farrell will rejoin the Red Sox on Sunday.
Pedroia played his 100th consecutive errorless game at 2B. His 99th game Friday broke his own Red Sox record, first set in 2009 and 2010.
The Blue Jays wore red caps and jerseys and special ceremonies were held before the game to mark Canada Day, and the 150th anniversary of Canada’s formation as a country. Toronto is 12-16 all time on Canada Day.
Red Sox: RHP Eduardo Rodriguez (right knee) threw a bullpen session before the game. His next outing will be a rehab start at Triple-A Pawtucket on Tuesday.
Blue Jays: Donaldson started at DH, with Darwin Barney at 3B. Kendrys Morales got the day off. … Toronto selected Harrell from Triple-A Buffalo and designated OF Ian Parmley for assignment.
Red Sox: LHP Drew Pomeranz (7-4, 3.81) has a 2.66 ERA in his past eight starts. He’s 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA in four games against Toronto.
Blue Jays: RHP Joe Biagini (2-7, 4.50) went 1-4 with a 5.88 ERA in five June starts. He made two relief appearances against Boston in April before joining the rotation.
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