BOSTON - The Boston Red Sox are back in the playoffs for the sixth time in seven years.
The Red Sox clinched the AL wild-card berth when the Los Angeles Angels beat the Rangers 5-2 on Tuesday night and eliminated Texas from the race. That gave Boston its seventh wild-card berth — more than any other team in the majors.
The Red Sox had long since lost to Toronto — their fifth consecutive loss — and most of the players left Fenway Park to find someplace else to wait for the West Coast game to end. Slugger David Ortiz said he would come back to the clubhouse for the traditional spraying of the champagne.
“Hell, yeah,” he shouted, calling for a clubhouse attendant to give him a pair of goggles. “We worked our way to be in this situation. Even not winning this game tonight, you move into the playoffs so there’s a celebration.”
Adam Lind hit three of Toronto’s six homers to lead the Blue Jays to an 8-7 victory and put Boston’s celebration on hold. The Red Sox scored five times in the eighth inning and put two on with two outs in the ninth before Jason Frasor got Kevin Youkilis looking on a 3-2 pitch to end it.
“I had that feeling,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said hopefully. “We’ve had games where we won like that. Just try to get the tying run to the plate and give yourself a chance.”
The Red Sox clubhouse was quiet afterward, and the televisions were off while reporters milled about waiting for players to interview. Francona said he was going out with his son, and when asked if he would watch the Rangers game catcher Victor Martinez said, “I don’t know. I might be sleeping by that time.”
The Red Sox scored five times with two outs in the eighth inning to cut a six-run deficit to 8-7, but Frasor got the last four outs for his 11th save.
The Blue Jays led 8-2 when Youkilis hit an RBI double, Ortiz hit the wall of the Red Sox bullpen for another run-scoring double and J.D. Drew homered over the bullpen to make it a one-run game. Frasor relieved Shawn Camp and got Casey Kotchman to pop up to end the inning.
With policemen lining up in the aisles in case of a celebration, Dustin Pedroia hit a line drive to the center field warning track with one out and one on in the ninth. Martinez walked before Youkilis was called out on a 3-2 pitch to end the game.
“As Frasor’s done all year, he did a good job and closed it out,” Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said.
Jose Bautista hit the first pitch of the game high over the Green Monster, Aaron Hill singled on the second pitch he saw and then Lind hit a 1-2 pitch from Clay Buchholz to center for another homer. Lyle Overbay walked and scored on Travis Snider’s single to give the Blue Jays a 4-0 lead after one-half inning for the second night in a row.
Ricky Romero (13-9) allowed two runs on seven hits and a walk, striking out three in five innings to beat Boston for the first time in five tries this season. He had been 0-3 with an 8.83 ERA against the Red Sox this year.
Buchholz (7-4) allowed seven runs on eight hits — five of them homers — while walking one and striking out four in five innings. He had been 6-0 2.44 ERA in his previous eight starts and had given up just one homer in his previous six starts.
Kevin Millar, the clubhouse jester of Boston’s 2004 World Series title, had a homer, double and single for Toronto, and Hill hit his 36th homer of the season.
Lind also homered in the fifth and seventh innings for the first three-homer game of his career. In his fifth plate appearance, Lind was hit on the right elbow by Jonathan Papelbon. Lind said he did not think it was intentional, but he sounded disappointed that he didn’t get a chance to swing for homer No. 4.
“It was going to be fun. The crowd was back in the game,” he said. “It’s always fun facing Papelbon. He’s one of the best in the game. I was going to go out there and try to put the head of the bat on the ball.”
Notes: It was the first three-homer game allowed by the Red Sox since 2004. ... Millar had been 3 for 31 heading into the game. ... Red Sox 3B Mike Lowell, who received a shot for his ailing hip on Monday, will take batting practice on Wednesday and return to the lineup on Thursday if all goes well. ... Lind also had two homers on Saturday against Seattle. ... Toronto leads the majors with 42 homers in September. ... The Red Sox called up RHP Fernando Cabrera from Triple-A Pawtucket, and recalled 1B Aaron Bates from Pawtucket and placed him on the 60-day DL. ... Boston had 14 hits but hit into four double plays. ... Lind is the first Blue Jay to hit three homers in a game since Frank Thomas in 2007, and the first Red Sox opponent to hit three at Fenway Park since Thomas did it for the Chicago White Sox in 1996.
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