BOSTON — An Alex Verdugo two-run homer in the eighth turned out to be crucial, as the Boston Red Sox picked up a 5-4 win over the Toronto Blue Jays to open a four-game series Monday night.
J.D. Martinez was stranded on third by Rafael Devers in the first, but Verdugo put the Red Sox on the board in the second, as he singled home Hunter Renfroe before Michael Chavis would ground out while plating Verdugo make it 2-0.
The Blue Jays struck back in the third, as Vladimir Guerrero Jr. picked up an RBI single which was followed up by a Marcus Semien RBI single to knot the ballgame up at 2-2.
Boston would retake the lead in the bottom half of the third with a solo big fly into right field off the bat of Rafael Devers, only for Bo Bichette to crush a two-run homer over the monster off Nick Pivetta, to end the righty’s night and give the Jays a 4-3 lead.
Pivetta ended his night tossing 4 2/3, while allowing four runs off six hits, striking out just three while walking two. Against his childhood team, the Canadian-born right-hander threw 92 pitches, 59 strikes, 45 four-seam fastballs, 20 sliders, 14 knuckle curves, and 13 changeups.
Phillips Valdez would take over to finish the fifth, and he had an impressive 2 1/3. He struck out two Blue Jays while allowing just two hits, pitching a scoreless sixth and seventh after finishing the fifth.
Adam Ottavino got out of a jam in the eighth, and Verdugo socked one over the bullpen in the bottom of the eighth for a two-run big fly, putting the Sox out in front 5-4.
Matt Barnes 1-2-3’d Toronto in the ninth, as the closer picked up his 22nd save of the season.
(Photo of Alex Verdugo/Matt Stone/Boston Herald)