BOSTON (AP) — Reigning AL Cy Young winner Rick Porcello struggled in his final playoff tuneup, and David Price relieved him to solidify his role on the postseason roster as the Boston Red Sox beat Toronto 10-7 on Wednesday night to lower their magic number to two.
Hanley Ramirez and Xander Bogaerts homered in a five-run third inning for Boston after Porcello (11-17) gave up three runs in the first. The Red Sox scored one in the first and three in the second and then took a 9-4 lead in the third to chase Marco Estrada (10-9) and snap a two-game losing streak.
Boston, which is already guaranteed a playoff berth, maintained a three-game lead in the division over the second-place Yankees, who beat Tampa Bay 6-1 on Wednesday night. The Red Sox could clinch the first back-to-back AL East titles in franchise history with a victory over Houston on Thursday and a New York loss to the Rays.
Porcello allowed five runs, seven hits and two walks, striking out eight in 5⅔ innings. A year after winning a career-high 22 games, the 28-year-old right-hander posted the most losses in his career. With a chance to become baseball's first 20-game loser since 2003, Porcello went 2-0 with a no-decision in his last three starts.
Price pitched 1⅓ perfect innings, striking out three, as he works his way back from left elbow problems that kept him on the disabled list for most of the year. It was his third appearance — all in relief — since returning on Sept. 14; he is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA, striking out nine in six innings
Mitch Moreland homered for the Red Sox, and Bogaerts had three hits and drove in four runs.
Estrada allowed eight runs — seven earned — nine hits and a walk, striking out two while recording just seven outs and losing for the first time in six decisions. He had only allowed two earned runs in his previous three starts against Boston this season.
Jose Bautista, Darwin Barney and Teoscar Hernandez homered for the Blue Jays, who hit 10 home runs in the three-game series. Hernandez has eight since he was called up on Sept. 1 — a franchise record for rookies in the month.