BOSTON >> The Boston Red Sox struck out 10 times in a 6-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday. It was the two strikes thrown off the mound that made the difference, though.
Right-fielder Jose Bautista threw out Shane Victorino at the plate in the sixth inning, and reliever Darren Oliver scooped up a bunt by Jonathan Diaz and nailed Jarrod Saltalamacchia at home an inning later, both plays preserving Toronto’s 2-0 lead.
“We’re looking for anyone to score. We left some opportunities out there,” Boston manager John Farrell said. “I have no question with the decision on (third base coach)Brian Butterfield. I’ll live and die with every decision he makes at third base. He’s an outstanding third-base coach.
“We forced (Bautista) to throw a 260-foot strike and he did,” he added.
Bautista also hit two home runs for the Blue Jays, who snapped Boston’s four-game winning streak.
“Obviously capable of hitting balls out of the ballpark every time he steps in the box,” Farrell said.
While it was Bautista’s bat that put Toronto ahead to stay in the seventh, when he hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer off reliever Junichi Tazawa, it was his arm that kept the momentum on Toronto’s side.
Victorino led off the sixth with a double and tried to score from second on Dustin Pedroia’s single to right.
Bautista, who had put the Blue Jays on top 2-0 in the top of the inning with his first homer of the game and 200th of his career, scooped up the ball and fired home to catcher J.P. Arencibia. Victorino came crashing into Arencibia, who blocked the plate and held onto the ball.
“Unfortunately the situation is going to be, ‘Why did you go? Or why did you send him in that situation?'” Victorino said. “But again, hey, we’re being aggressive, we’re going to stay aggressive, we’ve been aggressive all year long. He just made a great play.”
Neither Farrell nor Victorino blamed Butterfield for waving Victorino home, even after Bautista threw out David Ortiz at the plate on Friday night.
“It’s tough for a third base coach to read that. He’s got one of his speed guys running, so automatically you think all those scenarios go into play,” Victorino said. “Unfortunately I did hesitate because of the low liner. I wanted to be safe than sorry. Unfortunately on the back side we were sorry.”
With two on and no outs in the seventh, Farrell called for the safety squeeze with Diaz at the plate. Diaz, making his major league debut, laid down a bunt that Oliver fielded to the left of the mound before making an off-balance throw to home just in time to nail Saltalamacchia.
“Looking to force Darren Oliver to move off the mound and he makes a do-or-die play, bare hands it, throws it sidearm, fortunately throws a strike for them to cut down Salty at the plate,” Farrell said. “We forced them to execute about as perfect a defensive play and they did.”
Victorino eventually tied the game with a two-run single off Steve Delabar (5-1) in the seventh, but Bautista followed Jose Reyes’ leadoff single in the eighth with a drive off Tazawa (4-3) that went off the base of a light-tower in left-center. Bautista has 18 home runs this season and 21 career multihomer games.
Reyes boosted the lead with an RBI single in the ninth against Craig Breslow and scored from first on a fielding error by Diaz at third.
Blue Jays starter Esmil Rogers allowed six hits in six scoreless innings.
Boston’s Felix Doubront gave up two runs, five hits and three walks in 6 1-3 innings.
Adam Lind’s RBI put the Blue Jays ahead in the first.
NOTES: Farrell doesn’t expect SS Stephen Drew, who left Friday’s game after aggravating his right hamstring, to go on the DL. … Reyes is 3 for 17 since coming off the DL. … Diaz was promoted to the 40-man roster before the game, when RHP Clayton Mortensen was designated for assignment. . Bautista and Rajai Davis each stole off Doubront without an attempted throw from Saltalamacchia. Davis stole twice for the second straight game. … Toronto LHP Mark Buehrle (4-5, 4.73 ERA) is slated to face RHP Ryan Dempster (5-8, 4.15 ERA) in the series finale on Sunday.