Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Chris Mazza delivers against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning of the second game of a baseball doubleheader Friday, Sept. 4, 2020, at Fenway Park in Boston. Credit: Winslow Townson | AP

BOSTON — The Red Sox split the first doubleheader of its kind played in the 108-year history of Fenway Park.

Two seven-inning games saw Boston serve as the visitors in the nightcap. The Blue Jays captured the late-afternoon opener but were unable to complete a sweep. Their American League East playoff push was slowed by a half-step thanks to a Red Sox team at the bottom of the division.

Boston chipped three single runs in the second game, including on a throwing error by Toronto catcher Reese McGuire. That ultimately made the difference as the Red Sox edged to a 3-2 triumph, snapping a five-game losing streak.

The Blue Jays benefited from Boston’s charity in the opener. The Red Sox refused to accept an out when Lourdes Gurriel Jr. attempted to sacrifice bunt, a pivot point in what ultimately became an 8-7 defeat.

Yairo Munoz eased home from third base in the nightcap with the winning run, as Boston loaded the bases with one out and threatened against reliever Sean Reid-Foley. McGuire tried to pick Rafael Devers off second and fired into shallow center field. The Red Sox made that 3-1 lead in the top of the fifth inning stand up.

Tzu-Wei Lin smoked a ground-rule double to deep right-center in the second and Michael Chavis dropped an RBI single into center in the third. Both of those run-scoring hits came against Toronto starter Ross Stripling, who took the loss. Munoz and Christian Vazquez combined for four hits and two walks, reaching safely six times.

Rowdy Tellez sent a solo homer to left in the fourth, his 10th against the Red Sox over the past two seasons. The Blue Jays looked poised to take the lead in the sixth against reliever Robinson Leyer, as the right-hander threw just 18 of his 38 pitches for strikes. Jonathan Villar’s RBI single up the middle was all Toronto could manage, as Derek Fisher struck out swinging with the bases loaded to end the threat.

The Blue Jays made the most of their late chance in the opener. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. reached on an error in a 5-4 game and Toronto looked for a relatively risk-free way to add on. Gurriel showed bunt and couldn’t find a strike to put in play, eventually strolling to first. Following singles by Travis Shaw, Joe Panik and Randal Grichuk fueled a three-run inning as Toronto did just enough to put the Red Sox away.

“We’re not getting that one big hit,” Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke said. “It seems like we’re one big hit away a lot of times. Then we pitch it differently at the end, and sometimes it gets away from us.”

Boston answered with three runs in the bottom of the sixth to again draw within one, but two of its most productive hitters failed to come through in a key spot. Devers and Xander Bogaerts both popped up along the infield against AJ Cole, stranding men at second and third. Devers slammed the head of his bat to the infield dirt and Bogaerts looked poised to whip his toward the home dugout.

“Carlos (Febles, third-base coach) actually came in and he said, ‘Wow, I was feeling great with those two guys coming up,’” Roenicke said. “That’s the way we feel about them. We’re just not getting that big one.”

The Red Sox trailed throughout this one, as Zack Godley retired five of the first six men he faced before running into trouble with two outs in the second. Shaw sent a deep drive toward the triangle that cleared the Boston bullpen for a solo homer. Panik drew a walk and Danny Jansen — hitting just .147 on the year — cracked an 0-and-2 curveball to the Monster Seats to make it 3-0.

Grichuk doubled leading off the third and eventually scored from third on a double play, closing the book on Godley. He left after three innings and 51 pitches on the hook in a 4-2 game. Tellez flipped a sacrifice fly to left against Jeffrey Springs in the fifth before Toronto added the eventual deciding runs in the sixth.

Munoz was at the center of all three productive innings for the Red Sox. He dropped a two-run homer just over the Green Monster in the second and scored after a leadoff single in the fifth. Munoz grounded an RBI double inside the third-base bag in the sixth, finishing a 3-for-3 effort.

“He swings the bat,” Roenicke said. “That’s what they had told us from the alternate site. He was swinging the bat better than anybody, and that’s what they were seeing.”

Jose Peraza’s double to deep center plated Munoz in the fourth, and he eventually scored on a wild pitch. Chavis knocked an RBI single to center in the sixth and Peraza’s fielder’s choice drew Boston back within striking distance. Alex Verdugo drew a four-pitch walk against Cole before Devers and Bogaerts came up empty.

Story by Bill Koch

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