BOSTON - Omar Vizquel has had many outstanding moments through a 24-year career that figures to send him to Cooperstown. One of them came Sunday at Fenway Park, where he hit a game-winning sacrifice fly in the ninth inning in his final plate appearance at the old yard.
"I think the best (Fenway) moment was the All-Star Game (in 1999) when I came here and Ted Williams came out in that little car from the outfield and everybody just came to the mound and start shaking his hand and talking about baseball," the 45-year-old Vizquel said after his second sacrifice fly of the game gave the Toronto Blue Jays a 4-3 victory over the Red Sox that lifted the Jays past Boston into fourth place in the American League East.
"It was a very special moment," Vizquel said of the All-Star thrill.
And his final manager, John Farrell, is intent on giving Vizquel a few more moments before the season ends Oct. 3.
"He's closing in on Babe Ruth in terms of the number of hits in a career, and I think it's only fitting that as we go through this last stretch of the season, the places that he's played the most in, whether it's here in Boston, New York, Baltimore, he'll be on the field," Farrell said.
Vizquel has 2,870 hits, good for 43rd place on the all-time list. He needs three more to catch Ruth at No. 41.
"It would be something amazing," he said. "I never thought, like coming into this year, I never thought that I was to even be close to him. That name wasn't even in a paper, on my mind, and now that things are coming closer to him, it's just an amazing feat.
"I never thought that a little guy that they questioned his bat for a while and wondered if I could stay in the big leagues (to be) that close to a guy that has been a legend for a hundred years. It just makes you realize how fortunate and how grateful (I am for) this career."
Asked about Farrell letting him play, Vizquel said, "It's very nice for him to give me the chance to play here my last time. I'm glad that things went all right. My last at-bat was a good at-bat, a game-winning RBI. I feel pretty special because I have a lot of memorable moments here. I'm very excited about it."
Vizquel, who has 11 Gold Gloves at shortstop (and plays second base these days), came into Sunday's game with only three RBIs in his final season. But he hit a sacrifice fly in a three-run Toronto fourth and then hit another one off Clay Buchholz (11-6) with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth as the Blue Jays won their fourth straight and moved two games ahead of Boston in the "battle" for fourth place.
The free-falling Red Sox lost their fourth straight, their 11th in the last 12 and 15th in the last 18.
Buchholz gave up three runs on four hits in the fourth inning, then retired 13 straight batters before Rajai Davis singled with one out in the ninth. Davis then swiped his 41st base of the year and took third on Anthony Gose's single.
Beleaguered manager Bobby Valentine came out to the mound and got a hand when he left Buchholz in with 113 pitches.
"I thought he was coming out to get me and he was like, 'Oh, I was just coming to check on how you were doing,'" Buchholz said. "I was like, 'Go back to the dugout and I'll try to get a ground ball double play right here.'"
"Just wanted to make sure he believed like I did, that he had enough (to escape)," Valentine said. "He said, 'Guaranteed.' Heck, he got a little blooper to left, hit pretty good, two strikes."
Gose stole second and pinch hitter Kelly Johnson was walked intentionally with a 2-1 count, before Vizquel hit his fourth straight fly ball to left fielder Scott Podsednik. Farrell said he wouldn't pinch hit for Vizquel because "he's good from the left side."
Reliever Brandon Lyon (2-2) got the win after facing (and retiring) one batter in the eighth, while Casey Janssen worked the bottom of the ninth for his 20th save. It wasn't easy.
James Loney led off with a single. Cody Ross, who had two hits and a walk earlier, then hit a long foul home run and took a called third strike on a borderline 3-2 off-speed pitch. Jacoby Ellsbury then flied to deep center and Mike Aviles fouled out to end it.
Ellsbury (No. 3) and Dustin Pedroia (No. 14) homered off Toronto starter Carlos Villanueva.
NOTES:The Red Sox have been outscored 83-31 in the last 12 games. ... The Jays have won eight of their last 10 at Fenway, 13 of their last 19 against the Red Sox. ... Gose had five RBIs Saturday night and two hits and an RBI Sunday. ... Daisuke Matsuzaka, who lasted only 1 1/3 innings Saturday night, may have made his final start in a Red Sox uniform. Valentine said he's not sure whether Matsuzaka, whose contract ends at the end of the season, will start against the Yankees Thursday, his 32nd birthday. Alfredo Aceves might get the start. ... Ellsbury, in a 5-for-36 nine-game slump coming in, batted sixth for the first time since 2009. ... Both teams are off Monday, the Sox hosting the Yankees and the Blue Jays the Mariners Tuesday night.
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