TORONTO (AP) — A milestone win for Rick Porcello gave the Boston Red Sox some breathing room atop the AL East.
Porcello pitched seven innings to become the first 20-game winner in the majors, Hanley Ramirez hit a three-run homer and the Red Sox increased their AL East lead to two games by routing the Toronto Blue Jays 13-3 on Friday night.
Xander Bogaerts homered and Dustin Pedroia had three hits and four RBIs as the Red Sox used 18 hits to rough up the sloppy, slumping Blue Jays in the opener of a pivotal three-game series between the division’s top two teams.
Porcello (20-3) allowed two runs and six hits to become Boston’s first 20-game winner since Josh Beckett in 2007.
“It’s definitely a huge honor,” Porcello said. “It’s hard to win one game in the big leagues, let alone 20. I’m definitely very proud of that.”
Porcello has worked at least seven innings and held opponents to three earned runs or fewer in nine consecutive starts, the longest streak by a Red Sox pitcher since Pedro Martinez did it in 11 straight in 2000.
“Just a model of consistency,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “He keeps rolling along and we play with a lot of confidence. His execution has been outstanding. He’s pitching with average velocity but his location is tremendous.”
Porcello said he had received a number of congratulatory text messages, but had one he was going to respond to right away.
“I’ve got to call my parents,” he said. “That’s first and foremost.”
Porcello came in 6-7 with a 5.27 ERA in 15 career games against Toronto but kept the Blue Jays in check.
The Red Sox broke it open by scoring six runs in a 10-batter seventh. Bogaerts hit a leadoff drive off Scott Feldman, his 18th. Three batters later, Ramirez connected off Feldman, his 22nd. Pedroia capped the rally with a two-run single off Ryan Tepera.
Boston (79-61) surpassed its win total from a last-place finish in 2015, when it went 78-84.
Toronto, which was swept in a three-game series at Yankee Stadium earlier this week, fell to 1-6 in September. The Blue Jays had won six of their previous eight against the Red Sox.
“We haven’t necessarily been playing good baseball the last week but I still believe,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.
Blue Jays right-hander Marco Estrada (8-8) allowed four runs, three earned, and six hits in 2 1/3 innings, his shortest outing of the season. The last time Estrada failed to finish three innings was June 30, 2015, also a home loss to Boston.
“He was off, no question about it,” Gibbons said. “He lives on the edges and he was just missing.”
Estrada is 3-5 with a 5.32 ERA in nine starts since being named an All-Star for the first time. He missed the All-Star Game after being placed on the disabled list because of a sore back.
“Nothing went our way today and obviously it started with me,” Estrada said.
PARKA FOR PAPI
Blue Jays sluggers Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion presented retiring Red Sox DH David Ortiz with a winter parka and a leather jacket before his final series in Toronto. Ortiz has 40 career home runs at Rogers Centre, more than any other road ballpark. “I’ve seen enough of him,” Gibbons joked about Ortiz. The Blue Jays made a donation to Ortiz’s foundation.
Pedroia has at least one hit in 27 consecutive games against Toronto, the longest streak by any Blue Jays opponent.
Red Sox: OF Andrew Benintendi (left knee) ran the bases before the game and will try sliding as early as Saturday. “A very good day for him,” Farrell said. There is still no timetable for Benintendi’s return. … Boston recalled LHP Henry Owens from Triple-A Pawtucket.
Blue Jays: C Russell Martin (left knee) was held out of the lineup. Martin aggravated the injury in Wednesday’s loss at New York and was replaced by a pinch-hitter in the ninth. “He’s still pretty sore,” Gibbons said.
Red Sox: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (2-6, 4.83) has a 2.73 ERA in nine starts since the All-Star break. Rodriguez is winless in his past five outings.
Blue Jays: LHP J.A. Happ (17-4, 3.44) is winless in three starts since his 11-game winning streak ended Aug. 25. Happ won his only start against Boston this season, allowing one run in seven innings.
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