TORONTO – Alex Verdugo greeted Toronto Blue Jays closer Jordan Romano with a first-pitch solo home run in the ninth inning to cap the Boston Red Sox’s 5-4 comeback win and sweep the three-game series on Sunday.
Romano (3-4) began the ninth inning with a four-seam fastball that wound up 415 feet away in the right-field seats.
The fifth-place Red Sox (43-42) now trail the Blue Jays (45-40) in the American League East Division standings by two games. Boston reliever Chris Martin (3-4) notched the win.
Jarren Duran scored three times with four doubles and a check-swing infield hit as the Red Sox trailed 4-2 after sixth innings.
In the seventh, the Red Sox tied the game at 4-4 with reliever Erik Swanson pitching. Duran opened the inning with his fourth double and scored on Justin Turner’s single to right field.
Turner then hustled on Verdugo’s groundout to third, scoring on a Vladimir Guerrero Jr. throwing error.
Brandon Belt smashed his sixth homer of the season to provide a two-run cushion with a one-out blast in the sixth before 41,455 in the series finale at Rogers Centre.
Belt’s second blast of the game ended up in the first row of the left-field seats and came off reliever Nick Pivetta of Victoria, B.C.
After a draining 28-pitch first inning, Toronto starter Kevin Gausman only lasted five innings, surrendering two runs on five hits and a walk. However, he struck out seven to boost his total to an American League-leading 146 on the year.
Rafael Devers delivered three singles, knocking Duran twice with a two-out single past second baseman Whit Merrifield in the opening inning and a one-out single past Guerrero in the third.
Belt pulled the Blue Jays even 1-1 in the bottom of the first with a solo shot to right field.
The Blue Jays received a break when Boston starter Garrett Whitlock departed after an inning because of right elbow tightness, forcing the Red Sox to use a series of relievers to finish the game.
Down 2-1, Bo Bichette knocked in Kevin Kiermaier and George Springer for a 3-2 lead in the fourth. Kiermaier and Springer opened the inning with singles and advanced to second and third base on a double steal.
Bichette smashed a shot down the right-field line but was thrown out at second base by Verdugo.
Toronto reliever Yimi Garcia struck out Connor Wong with the bases loaded to end Boston’s sixth inning.
The Blue Jays have Monday off before beginning their final week leading up to the all-star break. Toronto has a pair of three-game road sets against the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers.
Toronto starter Chris Bassitt (8-5) will face White Sox righty Lucas Giolito (6-5) in the opener at Guaranteed Rate Field on Tuesday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 2, 2023.
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