TORONTO — Edwin Encarnacion’s first home run of the night got everyone’s attention.
His second blast gave the Toronto Blue Jays a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Encarnacion drove in four runs in all and Rajai Davis scored three times to lead Toronto to a wild 9-7 win over the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night. The victory ended the Blue Jays’ four-game skid and put a stop to Boston’s five-game winning streak.
The come-from-behind win also gave the Blue Jays (10-17) a much-needed injection of confidence after a series sweep in New York.
“It’s big for us right now,” Encarnacion said. “The way we’ve been playing the last couple of games – we haven’t been playing great. So winning the opener of this homestand is very important for us. So we’re going to keep the head up, keep working, keep going.”
Encarnacion launched a two-run blast into the fifth deck in the fifth inning and restored Toronto’s lead with a two-run shot in the seventh to put Toronto ahead 8-7. The Blue Jays added an insurance run in the eighth when Colby Rasmus drove in J.P. Arencibia with a one-out single.
“We’ve got a good hitting team,” said Toronto manager John Gibbons. “It’s been kind of silent but I mean there’s some pretty good hitters in that lineup. We’ve been saying it over and over that it’s just a matter of time.
“Hopefully this is the time and we get on a little roll.”
Reliever Steve Delabar (2-1) got two outs for the victory and closer Casey Janssen pitched the ninth for his seventh save. David Ortiz homered and drove in four runs for the Red Sox, who still own the best record in the major leagues at 18-8.
Arencibia and Rasmus had two hits apiece for Toronto. Both teams had nine hits on the night.
“They’ve got a quick-strike offence and they swung the bats very well tonight,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said of his former team. “They didn’t miss pitches when they got them on the plate.”
Toronto starter Brandon Morrow allowed six hits and three earned runs over five innings, striking out seven and walking three.
Encarnacion’s first blast was just inside the foul pole and estimated at 419 feet. He became the 14th player to hit a homer into the stadium’s fifth deck and first since Shelley Duncan on May 31, 2011.
The homer gave Toronto a 6-3 lead but Boston kept chipping away. Jonny Gomes hit his first homer of the season – a solo shot – off reliever Aaron Loup in the sixth and the Red Sox took advantage of some sloppy defence in the seventh to take the lead for the first time.
Daniel Nava hit a potential double-play ball to Munenori Kawasaki but the Toronto shortstop threw wide to second baseman Maicer Izturis. Delabar then replaced Loup and walked Pedroia to load the bases.
That set the stage for Ortiz, who stroked a double to right-centre field that brought three runs across.
Encarnacion answered in the bottom half of the frame with his second no-doubt homer of the game, this one off reliever Junichi Tazawa (2-1). It was a welcome sight for Toronto fans who had grown increasingly pessimistic after a tough opening month of the season.
“We could have disappeared after Ortiz’s big hit, but we didn’t,” Gibbons said.
Boston starter Jon Lester gave up five earned runs and six hits over six innings. He walked two batters and had five strikeouts.
“It was one of those nights for me from pitch one,” he said. “I just wasn’t able to repeat the ball down in the zone and that’s big. Curveball just kind of rolled in there and I didn’t have a very effective change-up.”
Davis opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning. The speedy designated hitter drew a walk and stole second before scoring easily on a Jose Bautista double off the centre-field wall.
Morrow, who fanned Ortiz and Mike Napoli to end the first inning, made it five strikeouts in a row by whiffing the side in the second inning.
Toronto put up three runs in the third after loading the bases with nobody out. Brett Lawrie of Langley, B.C., hit a liner that just missed Lester’s head and sailed into centre field.
Lester appeared a little rattled after the play. He hit Davis with a pitch and walked Bautista on four straight pitches.
Boston catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia tried to pick Bautista off first base but his throw was wide, allowing Lawrie and Davis to score without a throw. Bautista moved to second and later scored on a double down the left-field line by Arencibia.
The Red Sox touched up Morrow for a couple runs in the fourth inning.
Ortiz hit a rainbow solo shot to centre field and Mike Carp added a solo blast to deep right-centre later in the frame. It was the third homer of the season for Ortiz and the first for Carp.
Morrow walked Saltalamacchia but got out of the jam when Lawrie dived to his left to spear a hard-hit ball from Will Middlebrooks to start a nifty 5-4-3 double play.
The Red Sox cut into the lead again in the fifth inning. After a pair of singles, Dustin Pedroia lashed a pitch to centre field to score Stephen Drew from second base.
Rasmus came up throwing but was a little high with his throw home. Drew slid wide to avoid the tag while dragging his hand across the plate, making it a one-run game.
Morrow struck out Ortiz and picked off Pedroia at second base to get out of the jam.