TORONTO -- After a slow start to his season, Clay Buchholz is rounding into form for the Boston Red Sox.
Buchholz gave up two runs on six hits in a season-high eight innings and the Boston Red Sox took the first game of a three game series against the Toronto Blue Jays 7-2 on Friday.
"It's been building the last three or four times out," said Buchholz, who picked up his first win in four starts.
"I just didn't have the inning where I couldn't shut them down without scoring three or four runs in that one inning so it sort of came together tonight."
Buchholz (5-2) recorded a season-high seven strikeouts, including striking out the side in the sixth inning and only walked two batters.
Things could have gone much differently had Buchholz not worked himself out of a first inning jam. After Toronto got their first hitters on base in the second, Buchholz settled down and recorded a big strikeout on Jays' slugger Jose Bautista and then got Edwin Encarnacion to ground into an inning ending double play.
"It was big just in the first inning a big part of the game for me. That was just a stepping stone to go out there with a little bit of confidence," said Buchholz.
Blue Jays starter Henderson Alvarez (3-5) gave up four earned runs in 6 1/3 innings work as the Blue Jays had their three-game winning streak snapped. The Red Sox registered 15 hits on Blue Jays pitching.
"Henderson kept us in the ballgame," said Blue Jays manager John Farrell. "But like I said, they bunched their hits together in the seventh to spread things open."
David Ortiz homered for the Red Sox in the second but it was a four-run seventh inning that blew the game wide open.
With Boston leading, 3-1, Ryan Sweeney doubled to lead off the inning. Alvarez then struck out Mike Aviles before being replaced by Luis Perez.
Perez retired the first batter he faced but then gave up consecutive hits to Scott Podsednik, Daniel Nava, Adrian Gonzalez and Ortiz that gave Boston a 7-1 lead.
Nava had a great night at the plate. With a depleted Red Sox outfield, Nava's been getting more playing time and on Friday he went 4-for-5 with an RBI and scored three times.
"Everyone's got to step it up more and the fact that Nava's come up with no expectations and go out there and keep playing like he can then he's just done awesome," said Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
David Cooper got a run back for the Blue Jays with a home run in the bottom of the seventh but Buchholz and Scott Atchison shut the door the rest of the way.
Ortiz opened the scoring with a 10-pitch, lead-off homer in the second inning. Ortiz crushed a pitch from Alvarez deep to left center field for his 13th homer of the season.
The Red Sox doubled their lead the next inning. After Nava doubled to deep right center field with two outs, Gonzalez drove him in with a single to left.
Toronto came back with a run in the home third as Yunel Escobar hit his third homer of the season. Escobar took a 0-1 pitch from Buchholz out to left center field.
Alvarez had a scare to start the fifth when Mike Aviles drove a hard shot off his left shin. Alvarez hobbled for a few strides before angrily throwing his glove down and then fell to the ground himself.
The play was eerily similar to what happened to Brandon Morrow on Wednesday against Baltimore. But unlike Morrow, who had to come out of that game, Alvarez threw a few warm-up pitches to test the leg and was able to continue. He had a little difficult when moving to cover first base later in the inning.
"That one hit him pretty square too. You don't want to see that two games in a row, a ball back to the pitcher," said Toronto catcher J.P. Arencibia. "Fortunately enough he was OK and was able to continue
pitching. He said he was all right after a little bit. His feeling came back and he got on the mound."
Alvarez worked out of the inning with two ground balls, one resulting in a double play.
NOTES: The Blue Jays announced they had promoted Vladimir Guerrero to Class AAA Las Vegas on Friday. ... Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis was given the night off. ...Second baseman Dustin Pedroia remained out of the Boston lineup after coming out of Monday's game in the fifth inning with a jammed right thumb. ... Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus extended his current hitting streak to eight games with a single in the fourth inning. ... Left-hander Felix Doubront (5-2, 3.86 ERA) will start Saturday for Boston against Kyle Drabek (4-5, 4.55 ERA).
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