BOSTON -- With the majority of the Red Sox starting rotation injured or struggling and the bullpen taxed, veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield worked seven strong innings, allowing three runs on nine hits with one walk and seven strikeouts to help Boston to a 6-4 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night at Fenway Park.
Wakefield threw 106 pitches, 77 for strikes, to improve his record to 5-3 in 11 starts this season.
With the victory, the 44-year-old is two wins shy of becoming the 108th pitcher in major league history, and the 89th modern-day hurler (since 1900) to record 200 wins.
The Red Sox took two of three against the Blue Jays and have won eight of 14 series this season at Fenway Park.
ALL-STAR CALIBER: Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury continues to produce like an All-Star. The Sox center fielder went 3-for-5, including a home run, a pair of doubles, three RBIs, a stolen base and a run scored to help Boston to victory. He led off the bottom of the first with a home run, crushing a 1-0 offering from Blue Jays starter Ricky Romero. It was Ellsbury’s 10th round-tripper of the season and his third leadoff shot. Despite going 0-for-4 on Tuesday, he finished the three-game set against Toronto 7-for-14 with two runs scored, a triple, two doubles, a home run, five RBIs and two stolen bases.
RIGHT SIDE UP: With Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez (stiff neck) getting his first night off this season, third baseman Kevin Youkilis found himself on the right side of the infield for the first time since Aug. 2, 2010. Youkilis, who missed Tuesday’s game due to headaches and tightness in his back after getting hit by a pitch on Monday, went 3-for-4 with a home run and a pair of doubles. Gonzalez had played all 85 games until Wednesday night’s breather.
DEFENSIVE GEM-LESS: No doubt Ellsbury had a heck of a night at the plate, but he also showcased his defensive skills, though that went for naught on a non-play in the top of the fifth. With one out and one runner on, the Blue Jays’ Eric Thames drove ball deep to left-center field. Ellsbury, in an all-out sprint, got to the base of the wall and made a leaping catch. It would have been the defensive gem of the game, but prior to Wakefield’s offering, Thames asked for time out and plate umpire Tim McClelland awarded it. Red Sox manager Terry Francona came out to argue, but Thames was given another shot and ended up striking out. Francona and McClelland spoke again between innings.
UP NEXT: With the Blue Jays leaving town and the Orioles arriving, the Red Sox will send left-hander Andrew Miller (2-0, 3.06 ERA) to the mound to face Baltimore’s righty Jake Arrieta (9-5, 4.74). Miller has made one career start against the O’s while he was with the Florida Marlins on June 23, 2009. The southpaw allowed one run through seven innings that game, but did not factor in the decision as the Marlins won in 12 innings.