TORONTO (AP) – The slumping Boston Red Sox are looking up at the New York Yankees now.

Eric Hinske homered as part of a six-run first inning, and the Toronto Blue Jays completed a three-game sweep of the Red Sox with an 8-1 victory Thursday night.

The Red Sox have lost seven of 10 and dropped one-half game behind the Yankees, who beat Detroit on Thursday, in the AL East standings. Boston, which opens a three-game set Friday at Yankee Stadium, trails New York in the division for the first time since April 13.

“It’s definitely not good,” Johnny Damon said. “We just can’t push the panic button.”

Damon called the World Series champions “a really bad team” after their previous loss and said Thursday’s game against Toronto was a must win.

The Red Sox are in fourth place. They also trail Toronto by a half game.

“I don’t fault effort. We just got beat,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “They were better than us in all the areas.”

Russ Adams had a career-high four RBIs for the Blue Jays, who swept the Red Sox in a three-game series for the first time since May 30-June 1, 2003. Toronto is 6-2 versus Boston this season.

“To win three in that series is big for us,” Adams said.

The Blue Jays sent 10 batters to the plate in the first against Boston starter Wade Miller (1-1). Reed Johnson led off with a triple before Orlando Hudson hit a sacrifice fly. Hinske later hit a towering two-run homer to right.

Miller then loaded the bases. Vernon Wells walked, Gregg Zaun singled and Aaron Hill walked before Adams hit a three-run double to left-center, giving Toronto a 6-0 lead.

Shea Hillenbrand added an RBI single in the second.

“It’s kind of hard to get the offense going when you give up six runs in the first,” Miller said.

Miller, making his fourth start of the season, allowed seven runs on six hits in just two innings. He missed the last three months of the 2004 season with Houston because of a frayed rotator cuff and didn’t make his first start for Boston until May 8.

“My arm is not dead right now. My arm feels good,” Miller said. “I haven’t had my best fastball and I haven’t been able to get outs. It’s got nothing to do with that, it’s just a matter of spotting balls better.”

Staked a 7-0 lead after two innings, Gustavo Chacin (5-3) allowed one unearned run on seven hits in six innings. He struck out two and walked two for his first win since April 27.

Pete Walker pitched three innings for his second save.

“Everybody is happy we swept the Red Sox,” Toronto’s Eric Hinske said. “It’s fun to come to the field when you are winning.”

Notes: After the game, the Red Sox purchased the contract of John Olerud, who signed a minor league deal with the Red Sox on May 1, from Triple-A Pawtucket. Olerud will be at Friday’s game against New York. The Red Sox also designated Shawn Wooten for assignment, optioned Jeremi Gonzalez to Triple-A Pawtucket and recalled catcher Kelly Shoppach from Pawtucket. … Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay is scheduled to start on Sunday after being pushed back a few days because of a strained left side muscle. … Blue Jays 3B Corey Koskie said Thursday he’ll miss up to two months after having surgery to repair a broken right thumb and ligament damage sustained in a game last week. … Chacin has allowed two or fewer earned runs in seven of his 10 starts.

AP-ES-05-26-05 2314EDT

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