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Rick Porcello and the Boston Red Sox found out the hard way how little margin for error there is when facing the red-hot Toronto Blue Jays.
Marcus Stroman pitched seven innings to win his first home start in more than a year, Justin Smoak had two RBIs and Toronto beat Boston 6-1 on Friday night.
The AL East-leading Blue Jays moved 4 1-2 games ahead of the Yankees, who lost 5-1 to the Mets at Citi Field. It's Toronto's biggest lead of the season.
Porcello (8-13), who came in with a 7.36 ERA in five games at Rogers Centre, allowed six runs, five earned, and eight hits in six innings.
"All things considered, I don't think he threw the ball as bad as his numbers indicated," Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo said.
Things unraveled for the Red Sox in the fourth, which began with Porcello walking Jose Bautista. Edwin Encarnacion followed with a potential double play grounder, but third baseman Brock Holt booted the ball. Smoak hit a two-run double.
"We just gave this team extra chances at times and they took advantage of them," Lovullo said. "That's why they're in first place."
Porcello blamed himself for the outburst after walking Bautista and falling behind Smoak 2-0.
"The games where they've really beat up on us have been little things like that, a leadoff walk or falling behind in a count," Porcello said. "Next thing you know they've got three or four runs up on the board."
Porcello matched his career-high in losses, first set in 2014.
Stroman (2-0), who returned last Saturday after tearing knee ligaments in spring training, started at Rogers Centre for the first time since Sept. 8, 2014, when he tossed a three-hitter against the Cubs.
"What an outing," manager John Gibbons said of Stroman's latest gem. "For a guy who had no spring training, coming off the big injury that everyone knows about, it's really pretty remarkable."
The right-hander, who beat the New York Yankees in his season debut last week, allowed one run and six hits. He is 8-2 with a 2.53 ERA in 16 career home games, including 12 starts.
Stroman is 4-0 with a 1.26 ERA in four career starts against Boston.
"He was just attacking the zone, especial early in the count," Red Sox first baseman Travis Shaw said. "When guys like that can control their two-seamer to both sides of the plate, it can be difficult."
Blue Jays DH Edwin Encarnacion went 0 for 4, ending a club record of reaching base safely in 44 consecutive games.
Toronto opened the scoring in the third when Kevin Pillar doubled, advanced on Cliff Pennington's sacrifice and scored on Ben Revere's groundout.
One out after Smoak's double in the fourth, Ryan Goins made it 4-0 with an RBI triple.
Boston's lone run came in the fifth when Rusney Castillo scored on an infield single by Josh Rutledge.
In the sixth, Russell Martin scored on Porcello's wild pitch and Pennington hit a sacrifice fly.
BAD TIMES FOR BRADLEY JR.
Since going 4 for 4 against Toronto on Sept. 7, Boston OF Jackie Bradley Jr. is 1 for 30 with 17 strikeouts. "We've just got to stay with the process with him and be patient," Lovullo said.
MEET ME IN MONTREAL
The Blue Jays and Red Sox announced Friday that they will play a pair of spring training exhibition games in Montreal next April 1 and 2. Luvollo noted that the Red Sox have plenty of connections to Montreal. Former Expos Pedro Martinez, Andre Dawson and Jeff Reardon all played for Boston, while Red Sox executives Dave Dombrowski and Dan Duquette were both GM of the Expos.
Red Sox: RHP Joe Kelly, who was shut down for the season after leaving Tuesday's game and returning to Boston for tests on his sore right shoulder, rejoined the team Friday. Lovullo said the tests indicated no structural damage in Kelly's shoulder. ... 2B Dustin Pedroia, who hit two home runs Wednesday, did not play, in part to protect his right hamstring from Toronto's artificial surface. ... 3B Pablo Sandoval got the day off.
Blue Jays: SS Troy Tulowitzki (left shoulder) rejoined the team after visiting a specialist in Boston. "They say he's making progress," manager John Gibbons said.
Red Sox: LHP Wade Miley (11-10, 4.41 ERA) is 1-2 with a 9.24 ERA in three career starts against Toronto.
Blue Jays: RHP R.A. Dickey (10-11, 4.08 ERA) lost at Yankee Stadium last Sunday, snapping a streak of seven straight winning decisions. Dickey, who allowed five runs in 7 2-3 innings, hadn't lost since a July 9 road defeat to the White Sox.
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