BOSTON (AP) – Jason Bay set a Red Sox record with his 11th straight homer with runners on base and Jon Lester rebounded from two bad outings as Boston completed a three-game sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays with a 5-1 win Thursday night.

Bay hit his 13th homer of the year, a two-run shot in a three-run first inning, and Boston led 5-0 before Aaron Hill singled in Toronto’s run in the seventh.

The Blue Jays began the series with the most runs in the majors but totaled just five against the Red Sox and suffered their first three-game losing streak of the season.

The sweep cut Toronto’s AL East lead to a half-game over Boston, 15-2 in its last 17 home games.

Bay broke a tie with Youkilis and Tony Conigliaro for most consecutive homers by a Red Sox player without a solo shot. He is one behind the major-league record set by Hank Aaron in 1970 and tied by Ken Griffey Jr. in 1999.

Lester (3-4) had allowed 13 earned runs in 10 innings in losing his previous two starts. On Thursday, he gave up eight hits in 6 1-3 innings but escaped several jams.

The Blue Jays stranded runners at second base in each of the first four innings as they reached Lester for six hits and a walk.

But with one out in the seventh, a walk and a single put runners at first and second and brought Ramon Ramirez in from the bullpen. Hill then lined an RBI-single to left before Ramirez ended a bases-loaded threat by getting Adam Lind to foul out to Bay in left field.

Robert Ray (1-2) made his fourth major-league start after getting his first victory last Saturday when he gave up one unearned run and three hits in eight innings of a 2-1 win over the Chicago White Sox.

Jacoby Ellsbury led off the first with a double, extending his hitting streak to 16 games. He took third on Dustin Pedroia’s groundout and scored on another groundout by David Ortiz.

Kevin Youkilis then walked and scored on Bay’s homer that hit the top of the five-foot high fence in front of Boston’s bullpen, just beyond the reach of Rios.

The Red Sox made it 4-0 in the third on Pedroia’s double and Youkilis’ RBI single.

They scored their last run in the fifth when Julio Lugo reached on an error by shortstop Scutaro, whose throw pulled first baseman Kevin Millar off the bag. Lugo was out at second on Ellsbury’s fielder’s choice grounder.

But Ellsbury stole second and scored on Pedroia’s single.

Notes: Ortiz went 1-for-4 one day after breaking a career-long 149 at-bat homerless drought. … Toronto lost to Boston for the fourth straight time and the 10th game in the last 13. … John Smoltz allowed one hit and struck out two in three innings of his first rehab stint. He pitched for the Red Sox Single-A team in Greenville, S.C. at the Augusta, Ga., affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. … Toronto fell to 4-5 against AL East opponents with three of those wins coming against last-place Baltimore. … Daisuke Matsuzaka makes his third start of the season Friday night and his first since going on the disabled list April 15. He’ll face Johan Santana in the opener of a three-game series with the New York Mets.

AP-ES-05-21-09 2213EDT


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