BOSTON (AP) -- Strong-armed Vernon Wells fielded back-to-back singles in the bottom of the ninth and fired home both times.
The center fielder's first throw cut down the potential winning run. His second was a split-second late, allowing Manny Ramirez to slide home safely and give the Boston Red Sox a 2-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night."Late heroics are better than no heroics," Boston manager Terry Francona said.One night earlier, the situation was nearly identical.With David Ortiz at second in the ninth, Kevin Youkilis singled to Wells, setting up a likely close play at home. But the ball took a big hop, Wells dropped it and Ortiz scored without drawing a throw to give Boston a 1-0 win."It was just like last night," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "Came down to the wire. They had the last at-bat."Also for the second straight night, the ninth-inning action followed a brilliant pitching duel. Boston's Daisuke Matsuzaka allowed two hits in seven scoreless innings, and Toronto's Dustin McGowan gave up one run and four hits in 7 1/3 innings.On Tuesday, Roy Halladay took the loss despite pitching all 8 2/3 innings for the Blue Jays. For the Red Sox, Jon Lester gave up one hit in eight innings and Jonathan Papelbon allowed another in the ninth."Our pitching has managed to keep us right there and allow one big hit or two to win a game for us," Francona said.Boston has taken the lead in its last at-bat in five of its last six victories. Toronto is 3-11 in its last 14 games.The Red Sox took a 1-0 lead in Ortiz's fifth homer of the year in the seventh before Toronto tied it on Alex Rios' sacrifice fly in the eighth.Papelbon (2-0) picked off pinch runner John McDonald in the top of the ninth."He got away with a balk move," Gibbons said.Papelbon knew the Blue Jays would try to run."I knew they were going to try to put a man in scoring position," he said.Scott Downs (0-1) started the bottom of the ninth by allowing a single to Ortiz and a walk to Ramirez. Mike Lowell then struck out.Brandon Moss singled to Wells in short center and pinch runner Jed Lowrie raced for the plate. But Rod Barajas blocked it and tagged Lowrie."I thought I got around him, but Vernon made a great throw and Barajas blocked the plate well," Lowrie said.Ramirez held up at second as he watched the play and several of his teammates jumped out of the dugout, anticipating a celebration at home.They didn't have to wait long.Jason Varitek lined another single to center and Wells came up throwing. Ramirez hustled around third, slid in ahead of the tag and slammed his helmet to the ground after getting up. One group of players pummeled him at the plate while another surrounded Varitek near first.Wells had the same thought on each of the plays."Just charge it hard and give yourself a chance to make a good throw," he said. "The second one was just a little more off than the first."Ortiz's homer broke McGowan's string of retiring 16 straight batters. Toronto tied it in the eighth on Rios' sacrifice fly against Hideki Okajima after Adam Lind singled off Manny Delcarmen and took third when Gregg Zaun doubled.McGowan "was great," a subdued Gibbons said. "So was Matsuzaka."Matsuzaka has allowed just 20 hits in six starts covering 35 2/3 innings this season. It was his first game in 12 days, coming after he missed a scheduled start April 23 because of the flu.The Red Sox started the day with 12 hits in their previous three games, all singles."We've been going through kind of a rough stretch there for a while," Moss said, "so to walk off with two wins against two really good pitchers feels good."Ortiz's homer snapped Boston's streaks of 39 innings without an extra-base hit and 44 innings without a homer.Lowell doubled later in the seventh before Crisp's double in the eighth gave Boston three extra-base hits in six at-bats.In the ninth inning, Boston had three hits -- and the winning run -- in five at bats."You don't want to get thrown out at home, especially when you have a chance to win the game," Lowrie said, "but it worked out in the end."
Lind's single in the eighth broke an 0-for-12 stretch. ... RHP Bryan Corey was assigned outright to Boston's Triple-A team at Pawtucket. ... An 8-year-old boy was struck above the eye by David Eckstein's foul liner in the fourth. He was taken to Children's Hospital and was expected to make a full recovery, the Red Sox said. ... Boston OF Jacoby Ellsbury missed his second straight game with a sore groin. RF J.D. Drew also sat out with tightness in his left thigh that forced him out of Tuesday's game in the fourth. "He is not worse," Francona said of Drew, "but not good enough to send him out there."