Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Nick Pivetta throws to a Toronto Blue Jays batter during the second inning of a baseball game Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Dunedin, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)

Martinez’s 2-run homer in 9th lifts Red Sox over Jays 8-7

Martinez’s 2-run homer in 9th lifts Red Sox over Jays 8-7

DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP) — J.D. Martinez hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in a three-run ninth inning, and Boston Red Sox rallied to beat the Toronto Blue Jays 8-7 on Thursday night.

Alex Verdugo had an RBI grounder before Martinez connected on his 250th homer. The two-out drive came off Rafael Dolis (1-1), making his second appearance since returning from a right calf injury.

Martinez shouted and repeatedly pumped his fists while rounding the bases. He stopped a 12-game homerless drought Wednesday.

Phillips Valdez (2-1) went 1 1/3 scoreless innings and Matt Barnes worked the ninth to get his 10th save in 11 chances. After walking Rowdy Tellez, Barnes struck out Danny Jansen with a 98 mph full-count fastball.

Boston (27-18) held onto the AL East lead. Toronto dropped to 10-7 at TD Ballpark, where the Blue Jays have four more home games cause by Canadian government coronavirus travel restrictions. Toronto shifts home games next month to its Triple-A affiliate’s ballpark in Buffalo, New York.

Jonathan Davis and Randal Grichuk had RBI singles off Hirokazu Sawamura in the sixth as the Blue Jays went up 7-5. Grichuk’s hit came after shortstop Xander Bogaerts made a diving grab on Teoscar Hernández’s two-out grounder, but second baseman Michael Chavis was charged with an error for dropping a flip toss.

A match up of five-game winners turned into offensive fireworks early.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Grichuk had RBI doubles off Nick Pivetta in the first, and the Red Sox had seven straight batters reach with two outs during a five-run second against Steven Matz.

Bobby Dalbec hit an opposite-field three-run homer that struck the right-field pole, and Kiké Hernández and Martinez contributed run-scoring singles.

After Bo Bichette had a second-inning double, Cavan Biggio had an RBI single in a two-run fifth that tied it at 5.

Pivetta allowed five runs, seven hits, two walks and struck out eight in five innings.

Matz, who gave up five runs and 10 hits over six innings, was in line for the win until Dolis blew the save.

BREAKING THROUGH?

There was some lighthearted ribbing regarding Boston LHP Eduardo Rodríguez’s lack of hitting prowess (0 for 20, 10 strikeouts) heading into his start Sunday at Philadelphia.

“I would be really happy if he gets one but I will also be really surprised,” said Bogaerts, who put the chance of Rodríguez getting a hit at one percent.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora said he was not confident.

Cora has a rule that players can’t wear earrings but will let Rodriguez do it when he bats to see if it helps.

REUNION

Cora is looking forward to seeing former Boston president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, who currently holds the same position with the Phillies. The pair were together during the Red Sox’s 2018 World Series championship season

As for Dombrowski’s legacy, Cora said “he won” and “he did it his way, too.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Red Sox: INF-OF Danny Santana (foot infection) could be called up from Triple-A Worcester shortly..

Blue Jays: Manager Charlie Montoyo said CF George Springer (quadriceps) continues his running progression but needs to be built up more and will require a rehab assignment.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: LHP Martín Pérez (1-2) and Philadelphia RHP Aaron Nola (3-3) are Friday night’s starters

Blue Jays: Will face Tampa Bay ace Tyler Glasnow (4-2) Friday night to start their final home series at TD Ballpark. The Rays have won seven straight.

___

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Mark Didtler, The Associated Press

Baseball

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