TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays’ usually smooth defence was due for a misfire.
Toronto had three errors and other defensive miscues as the Boston Red Sox rallied past the Blue Jays 4-3 on Sunday afternoon, their second straight loss.
“We’ve been playing outstanding defence so we’re due for a clunker like this,” said starting pitcher Mark Buehrle, who was charged with an error in the fourth inning. “We’ve just got to come back tomorrow and be ready for the Yankees.”
The Blue Jays open a crucial three-game set with the New York Yankees on Monday in Toronto. Sunday’s loss narrowed the Blue Jays’ lead over New York in the American League East standings to three games.
Buehrle, who has won four Gold Gloves (2009-12), pitched six solid innings, giving up eight hits and three runs. Relievers Liam Hendriks, Brett Cecil, Mark Lowe and LaTroy Hawkins all came out of Toronto’s bullpen.
Lowe allowed Pablo Sandoval’s decisive run for the Red Sox (71-77), although he had reached base on an error by Cecil. Cecil (3-5) earned the loss as a result.
“Unfortunately, a lot of things didn’t go our way,” said catcher Dioner Navarro. “But we’ve got to go through that adversity. We’ll be alright. We’re right where we want to be.”
Navarro had a home run for Toronto (85-64), while Ben Revere had an RBI single.
Jackie Bradley Jr. drove in Sandoval with a sacrifice fly to deep centre field for the winning run in the eighth inning. Outfielder Kevin Pillar made an impressive throw to try to get Sandoval out at home, but the ball skidded on the hop to Navarro and bounced away.
“I knew if I was going to move to go get (the ball before it bounced) I wasn’t going to have time to go back and tag him, so I stood my ground,” said Navarro. “Unfortunately the ball hit the lip of the grass and kinda shot up on me.
“I think if the ball would’ve hit the grass only I would’ve had a better chance.”
Russell Martin, pinch hitting for shortstop Ryan Goins in the ninth, brought the 46,743 in attendance to their feet with a two-out double, but that was as close as Toronto got to tying the game and forcing extra innings.
Rich Hill (1-0), making his second MLB start since 2009, struck out 10, giving up seven hits and three runs over seven innings for Boston. Noe Ramirez pitched an inning of scoreless relief before Robbie Ross Jr. came in for the save.
Navarro put the Blue Jays ahead 2-0 with a two-run shot just to the right of the left-field foul pole. He drove in Edwin Encarnacion who had led off the second inning with a single to left field.
Toronto continued to rally after Navarro’s homer, as Kevin Pillar reached base on a dribbler to first, sliding into the base. Goins then hit a single and Revere made it 3-0 with a single that plated Pillar.
Xander Bogaerts’ smart base running chipped away at Toronto’s lead, scoring on an error charged to Buehrle. David Ortiz had grounded out to first baseman Chris Colabello, with Buehrle covering the bag. Bogaerts ran to third base when he realized none of the Blue Jays were covering it and Buehrle’s throw bounced past Josh Donaldson into foul territory, allowing the Red Sox shortstop to score.
Boston’s Travis Shaw tied it at 3-3 with an RBI single in the fifth inning, driving in Mookie Betts and Bogaerts with a hit to shallow left field.
Betts had reached first on what could have been a double play by second baseman Cliff Pennington, but his throw to Colabello was off the mark.
“It was costly we didn’t turn that double play. That led to a run,” said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. “But it’s tough to complain about the defence for the last couple of months.
“If we don’t score a lot we’re going to have trouble winning. That got us again today.”
Goins’s error in the sixth inning allowed Bradley to reach first, but a pop fly by Betts ended Boston’s inning without any runs scored.
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John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press