Adrian Gonzalez was 2-for-4 with three RBI as the Boston Red Sox coasted past the Toronto Blue Jays, 5-1, in the first game of a three-game weekend set on Friday night at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario.
Boston improved its record to 37-26 and leads the New York Yankees by 2.5 games, and has now won seven games in a row and eight of its last 11 games.
Clay Buchholz earned his fifth victory of the season, giving up one earned run on three hits while walking two and striking out six in seven innings for Boston. Buchholz threw 100 pitches, 62 of which were thrown for strikes.
Daniel Bard pitched a clean eighth inning, giving up one hit while striking out two to earn his 13th hold. Jonathan Papelbon also pitched a spotless ninth inning, recording one strikeout in a non-save situation.
Jo-Jo Reyes was denied the bid for his third straight victory, surrendering four earned runs on eight hits while walking two and striking out three en route to his fifth loss of the season for Toronto.
Dustin Pedroia (3-for-4), who made his return to the lineup on Friday night, drove in the game's first run in the third inning with an infield single to shortstop, allowing Jarrod Saltalamacchia to score and Jacoby Ellsbury to advance to third base. Gonzalez proceeded to ground into a 4-6-3 double play, which played Ellsbury and gave Boston a 2-0 lead in the third.
Juan Rivera cut the Blue Jays' lead in half on his sacrifice fly in the fourth inning, which plated Corey Patterson.
Gonzalez got the run back in the the fifth inning, as his single to center brought Jacoby Ellsbury around to score and allowed Pedroia to advance to third. Kevin Youkilis then singled to left, scoring Pedroia and giving Boston a 4-1 edge.
In the ninth inning, Gonzalez put the icing on the cake, lacing a ground rule double to left, bringing Ellsbury home for the Red Sox' fifth and final run of the game.
Toronto hosts Boston in the second game of the series on Saturday afternoon.
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