Blue Jays fall 4-3 to Red Sox

Toronto Blue Jays' Steve Pearce slides safely into second with a double as Boston Red Sox's Eduardo Nunez just misses with the tag during first inning American League MLB baseball action in Toronto on Wednesday April 25, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Thornhill

TORONTO – Mookie Betts led off the game with a home run and added a two-run shot in the seventh inning to power the Boston Red Sox to a 4-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night at Rogers Centre.

Betts took the third pitch from Toronto starter Aaron Sanchez over the wall and later burned reliever Danny Barnes for his eighth homer of the season.

Brock Holt had three hits and scored twice as the Red Sox ended a three-game losing skid. Craig Kimbrel worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his sixth save.

Boston improved its record to 18-5, tops in the major leagues. Yangervis Solarte hit a solo homer for the Blue Jays, who fell to 14-9.

The teams will play the rubber game in the three-game series Thursday night.

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Toronto’s opening run in the first inning was unearned after an error by third baseman Rafael Devers. His throw on a Justin Smoak grounder was wide and bounced into the seats, allowing Steve Pearce to score from second base.

Boston had a chance to break the game open in the fifth inning but settled for a single run thanks to some solid defensive play by the Blue Jays.

After Sanchez walked Jackie Bradley Jr., and hit Christian Vazquez with a pitch, Holt doubled to bring home Bradley with the go-ahead run. Betts flew out to right field and Teoscar Hernandez delivered a strong throw to keep Vazquez at third.

Sanchez walked Andrew Benintendi to load the bases but Toronto turned a slick 4-6-3 double play on a Hanley Ramirez grounder to keep it a 2-1 game.

Recent call-up Lourdes Gurriel Jr., showed off his speed in the bottom half of the fifth and it paid off with a run. He legged out an infield single, stole second and beat the throw home when Pearce lifted a flare into left field.

Solarte gave Toronto its first lead of the game in the sixth inning when he smacked the first pitch from Eduardo Rodriguez for a no-doubt shot. It was his team-leading sixth home run of the year.

Holt hit a one-out single off Barnes (1-1) in the seventh before Betts turned on an 0-1 pitch. The Red Sox would load the bases in the frame but Seung Hwan Oh got the last two outs to prevent further damage.

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Rodriguez (3-0) allowed six hits, three earned runs and a walk over 6 2/3 innings. He had three strikeouts.

Sanchez threw six innings of three-hit ball, allowing two earned runs and two walks while striking out eight.

Both teams had six hits apiece. Announced attendance was 18,914 and the game took three hours four minutes to play.

Notes: Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said third baseman Josh Donaldson (shoulder) has been participating in long-toss throwing sessions and will soon begin throwing across the diamond. He could begin a rehab assignment in the coming days. … Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (heels) has been cleared to begin light baseball activities and is progressing well, a team spokesman said. Tulowitzki underwent surgery in early April to remove bone spurs. He’s expected to be re-evaluated by his surgeon in about four weeks. … Toronto right-hander Marco Estrada (2-1, 5.32) is scheduled to start the series finale against southpaw Chris Sale (1-1, 1.86).

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