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BOSTON (AP) — Hanley Ramirez capped off a strong April. Better yet, Rick Porcello gave Boston's beleaguered pitching staff a boost.
Ramirez hit a two-run homer, Porcello held Toronto to one run over seven innings and the Red Sox beat the Blue Jays 4-1 on Wednesday night.
"He gave us exactly what we needed, seven strong innings," Boston manager John Farrell said. "As much as we talked about starters setting the tone, Rick did exactly that tonight."
David Ortiz and Mookie Betts had RBI singles for the Red Sox, who took the three-game series after losing their previous two.
Porcello (2-2) held the Blue Jays down one night after they put up 17 hits in an 11-8 win. He allowed two hits, struck out six and walked two in his best effort since joining the Red Sox.
Boston's starters entered the day with a 6.03 ERA, highest in the majors.
"I think we're all going out there trying to pitch our game," Porcello said. "Obviously we've had some struggles, but they're all behind us."
Ramirez tied David Ortiz for the club record for homers before May 1. Ortiz did it in 2006 when he finished with a career-best 54. He also tied the best start of his career for homers before May 1. He did it with the Marlins in 2008.
"They were talking about it today, saying I've got to go," Ramirez said. "But when you're at the plate you don't think about it."
R.A. Dickey (0-3) allowed four runs and nine hits, striking out four without walking a batter in seven innings. He was 4-0 against Boston last season.
"It was pretty consistent tonight," Dickey said of the knuckleball, his signature pitch. "I threw a lot of good ones. My velocities were good. I made a mistake to Hanley, 0-2, and it cost us. But outside of that I felt like I was pretty on point for most of the night."
Koji Uehara struck out all three batters in the ninth for his fourth save.
Trailing 1-0, the Red Sox took the lead with three runs in the third. Ortiz hit his RBI single before Ramirez followed with his 10th homer, a drive into the last row of Green Monster seats.
"Dickey pitched good enough to win," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "We just couldn't get anything going. To hold them to four runs in Fenway Park is a pretty good feat."
The Blue Jays had taken a 1-0 lead in the first. Kevin Pillar doubled and scored on a strange play when Josh Thole lined to left with the bases loaded, but Michael Saunders was forced out at third.
Porcello walked the first batter of the game, then struck out the next three.
Farrell challenged when Xander Bogaerts was cut down at the plate by a throw from RF Saunders, claiming C Thole blocked the plate. After using the headsets for a bit, two of the umpires left the field before the call was confirmed. The delay lasted just over 6 minutes.
"The reason it was lengthy is because the headsets weren't working," Farrell said.
CF Betts robbed Devon Tarvis by making a semi-leap just before the wall and falling to the warning track as he held the ball.
Blue Jays: Jose Bautista played his third straight game at DH. He's still unable to throw well enough to play the field after missing five games with a strained right shoulder.
Red Sox: 1B Mike Napoli was back in the lineup after missing two games while he was sick.
Blue Jays: LHP Daniel Norris (1-1, 4.43 ERA) faces Indians' LHP T.J. House (0-3, 12.60) on Thursday when they open a four-game series in Cleveland. Norris looks to snap a personal three-game losing streak, but is coming off a strong outing against Tampa Bay last Saturday when he held the Rays to one run in seven innings.
Red Sox: They are off Thursday before RHP Justin Masterson (2-0, 5.16 ERA) goes against New York LHP CC Sabathia (0-4, 5.96 ERA) when they open a three-game set against the rival Yankees on Friday.
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