TORONTO (AP) – Julian Tavarez called it the only highlight of his season.

“That’s the only good thing I’ve done this year,” Tavarez said after pitching his first complete game in six years in Boston’s 7-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night.

Tavarez began the year by serving a 10-game suspension for his role in a brawl. He then struggled out of the bullpen and was booed by Red Sox fans.

“I’m excited. This is a gift because I wasn’t doing my job in the ‘pen,” Tavarez said.

Tavarez (4-4) allowed seven hits in his second career complete game. He pitched his first on Sept. 5, 2000, against the Chicago Cubs and went 64 starts between complete games.

The right-hander struck out one and walked one.

“I got away with a lot of pitches. It was one of those days where you get away with everything,” Tavarez said. “A lot of times I got away with a fastball up or a hanging slider and those guys just hit it right at somebody.”

Tavarez hasn’t lost any of his five starts, but expects to be in the bullpen next year.

“He’s been a breath of fresh air,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “He’s been a good pitcher for a long time. He started the year where he was suspended for 10 games and then was playing catch-up.”

Mike Lowell homered and Alex Gonzalez doubled twice and had three RBIs for the Red Sox, who were eliminated from the AL East race on Wednesday. Boston is close to be being eliminated from wild-card contention, too.

Aaron Hill drove in the lone run for the Blue Jays, who have lost three of four.

The Blue Jays’ goal is to finish second in the AL East. Toronto has finished third in seven of the past eight seasons.

“We couldn’t get anything going against Tavarez tonight. That’s the bottom line,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said.

Boston’s David Ortiz went 0-for-3 with a walk – one night after hitting hit his 51st and 52nd homers to break Jimmie Foxx’s team record set in 1938.

The Red Sox scored three unearned runs in the second after first baseman Lyle Overbay dropped a popup in foul territory for an error.

Lowell hit his 19th homer, a two-run shot off Ted Lilly (14-13) in the second – two pitches after Overbay’s error.

Before Lowell homered, Kevin Youkilis fell behind 0-2 to Lilly before drawing a walk. Gonzalez later doubled to give Boston a 3-0 lead.

Hill hit an RBI single in the bottom half.

Boston scored four runs in the sixth on Gonzalez’s two-run double, Dustin Pedroia’s RBI single and Mark Loretta’s run-scoring single.

Lilly allowed five runs – two earned – and five hits in 5 1-3 innings.

“He was erratic. He never really had good command tonight. His breaking ball came and went,” Gibbons said. “He never really found his groove.”

Notes: Boston CF Coco Crisp will have season-ending surgery on his left index finger Monday. Crisp was examined by a specialist Thursday night. He missed 42 games this season with a non-displaced fracture of his left index finger sustained April 8 in Baltimore while trying to steal third base. … Former Blue Jays pitcher Juan Guzman received a standing ovation when he was introduced in the middle of the fourth … Overbay has hit in 12 straight games.

AP-ES-09-22-06 2330EDT

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