Martinez's 3-run homer lifts Red Sox over Blue Jays 5-4
Boston Red Sox's J.D. Martinez reacts after hitting a three-run home run against the Toronto Blue Jays during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Toronto on Thursday, April 26, 2018. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)
By IAN HARRISON
TORONTO (AP) Boston's Chris Sale wasn't his usual dominant self against the Blue Jays.
J.D. Martinez made sure that didn't matter.
Martinez hit a three-run homer, Sale won for the first time in three starts and the Red Sox rallied to beat Toronto 5-4 on Thursday night.
Andrew Benitendi had two hits and an RBI for the Red Sox, who wrapped up a 6-3 trip. The Red Sox are a major league-best 19-5, including 7-1 in one-run games.
"That was a tough one," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "To finish this road trip the way we did, it's outstanding."
Justin Smoak and Devon Travis hit solo home runs for the Blue Jays, who have lost five of seven.
"We just need to tighten some things up, get the starting rotation on a roll," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "We're killing our `pen right now. That can't hold up."
Martinez put Boston in front for the first time with a two-out blast to right off Marco Estrada (2-2) in the fifth, his fifth.
"It seems like lately we've been just scuffling a little bit at the plate, trying to find ways to put up runs," Martinez said. "To get it done was huge."
Martinez's past three homers have gone to the opposite field.
"He has that ability to stay back and hit line drives out of the ballpark," Cora said. "That's impressive."
Sale was impressed, too.
"He can do some pretty incredible things with that bat," Sale said of Martinez. "I'm appreciative of it tonight."
Martinez has 10 extra-base hits in his past 17 games.
"He's just not a power guy, he's a good hitter," Gibbons said.
Red Sox infielder Brock Holt was replaced after injuring his left hamstring while running during a third-inning double. Holt slowed between first and second and reached for the back of his leg. Holt has four doubles in four games and is hitting 16 for 34 (.471) during a nine-game hitting streak.
Cora said Holt was feeling better after the game and will be examined further Friday in Boston.
"It's tough to see because he's playing the way he's playing," Cora said.
Regular shortstop Xander Bogaerts, out since April 9 because of an injured left ankle, is expected to return from the disabled list Friday.
"I talked to him today and he was very upbeat," Cora said before the game. "Looking forward to having him back at shortstop and the middle of the lineup."
Sale (2-1) allowed three runs and four hits in six innings to improve to 5-1 in eight games at Toronto, where his ERA rose from 0.96 to 1.36. He struck out 35 over 22 scoreless innings at Rogers Centre last year.
"It was definitely a dogfight from the get-go," Sale said. "Giving up a run in the first three innings is tough."
Carson Smith got two outs, Matt Barnes worked 1 1/3 innings hitless innings and Craig Kimbrel got three straight outs for his seventh save in as many chances, finishing a six-hitter.
Ken Pillar's first-inning sacrifice fly ended Sale's 23-inning scoreless streak and Travis made it 2-0 in the second with his first home run this season.
Benintendi's RBI double in the third cut the deficit, but Smoak boosted the lead to 3-1 in the bottom half with his first home run since April 1.
Estrada allowed five runs and eight hits in five innings. Estrada has given up 14 earned runs in his past three starts, raising his ERA from 2.77 to 6.00.
Teoscar Hernandez chased Smith with a two-out RBI double in the seventh, and Barnes struck out Smoak to strand the potential tying run at second.
Estrada reached 1,000 career strikeouts by fanning Mitch Moreland to begin the second. It was the first of four straight strikeouts for Estrada
Toronto lost for the first time when scoring at least four runs. The Blue Jays are 13-1 in such games.
Red Sox: Mookie Betts made his first appearance in center field since 2015. ... RHP Joe Kelly's appeal of a six-game suspension was denied by Major League Baseball Thursday, and he started serving his penalty.
Red Sox: LHP Drew Pomeranz (0-0, 7.36) starts the opener of a three-game series against Tampa Bay on Friday. It will be the second start of the season for Pomeranz, who missed the first 18 games with a forearm injury. LHP Blake Snell (3-1, 2.54) starts for the Rays.
Blue Jays: RHP Marcus Stroman (0-2, 8.55) will be on the mound for the opener of a three-game series against Texas. Stroman has allowed at least four earned runs in all four starts this season. LHP Mike Minor (1-1, 3.86) starts for the Rangers.
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Updated April 27, 2018