Blue Jays' bats come through for hard-luck Tallet
Rios, Wells deliver big hits to seal 2nd straight win over Red Sox
For a change, the Toronto Blue Jays offence stepped it up a notch to reward Brian Tallet with a much-deserved victory.
The converted relief pitcher threw 118 pitches in seven solid innings of work and was backed by a 14-hit attack in a 5-3 decision over the visiting Boston Red Sox before a crowd of 35,484 on Saturday afternoon.
Tallet turned in his eighth strong outing in nine starts since being plugged into the starting rotation because of injuries, and evened his season record to 3-3.
The left-hander blanked Boston after giving up three runs in the first two innings and walking four en route to his first win in four starts at Rogers Centre in 2009.
"He started off like he wasn't going to make it to the fifth inning," Toronto manager Cito Gaston said. "All of a sudden he got his control back and started to mix and match pitches."
Brandon League and closer Scott Downs recorded the final six outs, with the latter posting his seventh save in his first appearance since straining his hamstring in Wednesday's game at Baltimore.
Toronto, which improved to 29-23, moved into a second-place tie with the 28-22 Red Sox in the American League East Division, a game behind the New York Yankees, who were set to play in Cleveland later.
Boston dropped to 2-4 on its 10-game road trip and has lost eight of its past 11 starts away from Fenway Park to fall to 11-16 on the road this season.
"The players we have — not everybody but a lot of them — are suited for Fenway," manager Terry Francona said. "There's guys on our club who know they can reach out and hook something and hit it off [the Green Monster in left-field]. Some of these road games, you can go out and hook it and fly out. There's a difference."
Tallet had trouble finding the target early on Saturday, issuing four walks and surrendering a two-run home run to Rocco Baldelli in the second inning that gave Boston a 3-1 advantage.
The Boston right-fielder exited the game in the fifth after slamming into a wall in foul territory and injuring his left knee. He was replaced by J.D. Drew. X-rays on Baldelli's knee revealed no damage.
"He bruised his kneecap pretty good," Francona said. "I think everybody involved thought it was worse when he first did it, including himself. We'll certainly stay away from him tomorrow. I think we dodged a bullet there because he hit that wall pretty hard."
Hill extends hit streak
But Tallet retired the next seven batters before plunking Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia on the left knee in the fifth inning. The reigning AL most valuable player was later picked off attempting to steal second base.
Tallet set down six of the final seven hitters he faced, allowing only three hits and striking out six.
Trailing 3-2, the Blue Jays offence went to work in the sixth inning. Designated hitter Adam Lind lifted a fastball from Boston starter Brad Penny over the fence in left-centre field for his eighth homer of the season and first in 12 outings.
"It seemed like every mistake I made they hit," Penny said after giving up three runs (two earned) on 10 hits over six innings.
With Ramon Ramirez on to open the bottom of the seventh, Marco Scutaro singled and advanced to second base on a wild pitch. Rios then singled to centre for his fourth hit in as many at-bats to score Scutaro with the go-ahead run. Rios came home on Wells's 14th double of the season.
Ramirez was dealt his second loss in six decisions this season after he coughed up two runs (both earned) on three hits in two-thirds of an inning to raise his earned-run average to 1.44.
Toronto second baseman Aaron Hill singled in the first inning to extend his season-best hitting streak to 13 games.
The Blue Jays will send rookie Ricky Romero (2-1) to the mound on Sunday in search of its third sweep of the season. Fellow lefty Jon Lester (3-5) starts for the Red Sox at 1:07 p.m. ET.
With files from The Canadian Press