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Bobby Valentine drummed his fingers angrily on his desk, still frustrated at a pitching change he hadn't made. More than any defeat in a disappointing April so far, this one was gnawing at the Red Sox manager.
Kyle Drabek won for the first time since June, Edwin Encarnacion homered and the Toronto Blue Jays beat Boston 7-3 Tuesday night, spoiling right-hander Daniel Bard's first Red Sox start and dropping the Red Sox to 1-4, another slow start for a team that opened last season with six straight losses.
Valentine was upset at himself not for the way he handled Bard's rotation debut, but for failing to take reliever Justin Thomas out of the game when the Blue Jays loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth.
"I should have brought in (Matt) Albers there with the bases loaded," a frustrated Valentine said. "It might have still been a 3-1 game if we get a great ground ball there and maybe we would have won that game."
Instead, Toronto catcher J.P. Arencibia drove in two runs with a broken bat single and Colby Rasmus followed with a sacrifice fly, putting the Blue Jays up 6-1.
So, why did Valentine decide to stick with Thomas?
"Just a dumb move," he said. "I don't like being dumb. I like doing what I'm supposed to do."
Making his first career start after 192 relief appearances, Bard saw his first pitch of the game laced through the left side for a single by Toronto shortstop Yunel Escobar. Two outs later, Escobar advanced to third when Adam Lind grounded a double down the third base line, then scored on Encarnacion's infield single.
Toronto tacked on two more in the third. Escobar and Kelly Johnson led off with back-to-back singles, Jose Bautista struck out and Lind lined an RBI single to center. One out later, Brett Lawrie chopped a single through the right side, scoring Johnson.
Bard (0-1) allowed five runs and eight hits in five-plus innings, walked one and struck out a career-high six.
"He pitched good enough to win if we scored some runs," Valentine said. "Not quite the results we were looking for and I know he's a little disappointed but you take that 30 times a year, you're going to get a lot of wins out of it. I'd bet anything on that."
Seven of the eight hits off Bard were singles, and most of them were grounders that scooted through the infield on the artificial turf.
"I feel good about how I threw it," Bard said. "The results obviously stunk, I recognize that and I'm frustrated with it, but I wouldn't change the way I threw."
Drabek (1-0) struggled in two starts against Boston last season, allowing 12 runs and 15 hits and taking the loss in a 14-1 home defeat on June 12, his last start before being demoted to Triple-A.
The right-hander was much sharper this time, giving up one run and three hits in 5 1-3 innings and setting down nine straight in one stretch. He walked three and struck out four.
"Tonight was another step and sign of his maturity as a pitcher," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said of Drabek.
Boston's Kevin Youkilis was impressed with Drabek's improved control.
"He was commanding the zone," Youkilis said. "He kind of went in and out and knew where the ball was going a little bit more than he used to. He got ahead and stayed ahead."
Jason Frasor and Luis Perez each worked 1 1-3 innings and Casey Janssen gave up a two-run double to Adrian Gonzalez in the ninth before David Ortiz was caught looking at strike three, stranding runners at second and third.
Encarnacion went 2 for 3 with a homer and two RBIs and matched a career high with two stolen bases. He lined a solo blast to left off Michael Bowden in the seventh for his first homer of the season.
Drabek kept the Red Sox scoreless until the sixth, when Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a walk and moved to third on Dustin Pedroia's double. Gonzalez hit a sacrifice fly, with Pedroia advancing to third, and Drabek was replaced after walking Ortiz. Toronto escaped when Frasor came on and got Youkilis to ground into a double play.
"He threw a splitter that kind of went away," Youkilis said. "I thought it was going to come back over the plate and it just went away. He made a good pitch. It seems like every time I face that guy he makes some good pitches."
Toronto promptly put the game out of reach by scoring three runs and chasing Bard in the bottom half. Encarnacion walked and stole second and Lawrie reached on an infield single, bringing Thomas out of the Red Sox bullpen. Eric Thames walked to load the bases before Arencibia's two-run single.
NOTES: Red Sox OF Carl Crawford, who is recovering from left wrist surgery, flew to Boston Tuesday to have his left elbow examined because of what Valentine called "minor soreness." The injury will not prevent Crawford from getting at-bats in extended spring. ... Bard's previous high in strikeouts was five, set in a 2 1-3 inning stint at Toronto on May 29, 2009. ... Bautista went 0 for 4 and struck out three times. ... Youkilis came in hitless in 12 at-bats this year, and 0 for 17 dating to last season, before reaching on a one-out double to right in the second. ... Red Sox RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (right elbow) threw 49 pitches over three innings in an extended spring training game Monday. ... Boston INF Mike Aviles was held out of the lineup with a slightly sprained left ankle. Aviles suffered the injury breaking out of the box in his second at-bat Monday. ... A male fan jumped out of the seats down the right field line, stripped off his shirt and pants, and ran across the field during Toronto's rally in the bottom of the third. The game had to be paused again in the fourth when a fan stood in the batter's eye in center field. ... Toronto Raptors guard Jose Calderon threw out the first pitch. ... Left-handers Jon Lester and Ricky Romero each get their first start in Wednesday's series finale, a 12:37 EDT start.
This program aired on April 11, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.
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