Boston’s Shane Victorino, top right, celebrates with Koji Uehara, top left, after reaching base on a fielding error by Toronto’s Josh Thole that allowed the Boston’s Jonathan Diaz to score in the ninth inning of Sunday’s game in Boston.
BOSTON — The Red Sox have 50 wins by the end of June after getting 69 all last year. They’re in first place in the AL East one season after finishing last.
Boston’s turnaround rolled on with a 5-4 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday. There were smiles in the clubhouse but hardly a sense of satisfaction.
“With 50 wins, people are going to keep talking about that. It’s not enough,” Shane Victorino said. “We’ve got to keep going.”
His hard grounder eluded first baseman Josh Thole for an error as Jonathan Diaz raced home with the winning run in the ninth inning. Thole entered in the bottom of the third when Adam Lind left with mid-back tightness and Thole was playing first base for just the second time in 316 major league games.
“You’ve just got to know who to hit it to, I guess,” Victorino said with a smile. “I played against Josh all those years in New York and he was a catcher.”
Thole, acquired from the New York Mets along with pitcher R.A. Dickey in December, had played first at Triple-A Buffalo before he was called up on June 7.
“I’ve played first base. That’s what I’m here for,” he said. “I’ve got to catch the ball and make an out.”
Jose Bautista tied the game in the ninth against Koji Uehara (1-0) with a solo homer, his 19th of the season and third in two games. On the previous at-bat, Victorino made a sliding catch near the right-field line on Jose Reyes’ fly ball.
“I think a lot of people doubted this team, the capabilities that we had,” Victorino said. “We’ve got that target on our back because we’re in first place. But you know what? We’re up for the challenge.”
Brandon Snyder singled with one out in the bottom half against Juan Perez (1-1), Jacoby Ellsbury walked and Casey Janssen relieved. Diaz ran for Snyder, and Thole couldn’t handle Victorino’s shot.
The Red Sox won for the fifth time in six games and improved to an AL-best 50-34. For the first time since 2009, they’ve won 50 games before any other AL team. They also reached 50 wins by the end of June for the fourth time in team history following 1946, 1978 and 2008. Their longest losing streak is three games.
“We’ve been consistent,” manager John Farrell said. “I think it speaks of overall depth of the team. It’s certainly not a milestone by any means. We’ve got a long way to go.”
Toronto has lost five of seven following an 11-game winning streak that tied the club record. At 40-41, the Blue Jays are in last place, 8 1-2 games behind the Red Sox.
“I don’t think it’s where we expected or wanted to be in spring training,” Toronto starter Mark Buehrle said. “Hopefully, we can go on some more winning streaks.”
Manager John Gibbons said the Blue Jays had plenty of chances before Thole’s error.
“That might be the most frustrating loss of the year right there,” he said, “I can’t remember that many opportunities.”
Reyes homered leading off the seventh, his second of the season and first since April 5. Reyes returned Wednesday after missing 66 games because of a severely sprained left ankle.
Boston starter Ryan Dempster allowed two runs, seven hits and three walks in 5 1-3 innings. Buehrle gave up four runs and seven hits in six innings.
Ryan Lavarnway’s RBI double and Snyder’s two-run double gave Boston a 3-0 lead in the second. It was the first big-league hit of the season for Snyder, brought up from Triple-A on Tuesday when struggling third baseman Will Middlebrooks was sent to Pawtucket.
INDIANS 4, WHITE SOX 0
CHICAGO — Justin Masterson pitched his major league-leading third shutout of the season and the Cleveland Indians completed their first four-game sweep in Chicago since 1948, beating the White Sox Sunday.
Masterson (10-6) gave up six hits, struck out eight and walked one. He blanked the White Sox for the second time this year.
The Indians turned four double plays. The win moved Cleveland into a virtual tie with Detroit atop the AL Central.
The White Sox have lost 23 of 31 and fallen a season-high 15 games under .500.
Chris Sale (5-7) struck out 10 while allowing three runs in eight innings.
RAYS 3, TIGERS 1
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Jeremy Hellickson earned his fifth June win and the Tampa Bay Rays beat Detroit in a game that included an early warning by the umpires.
Hellickson (7-3) allowed one run over six-plus innings. He tied the team record for victories in one month held by Matt Moore, David Price and Scott Kazmir.
ROYALS 9, TWINS 8
MINNEAPOLIS — David Lough hit three doubles, then launched a tiebreaking home run in the eighth inning that led the Kansas City Royals over Minnesota.
Lough hit his second homer of the season, sending a solo drive off Jared Burton (1-5) into the right-field seats for an 8-7 lead.
Eric Hosmer added a solo homer in the ninth for the Royals. Johnny Giavotella had three hits.
ANGELS 3, ASTROS 1
HOUSTON — Josh Hamilton doubled home the go-ahead run in the eighth inning and scored on shortstop Jake Elmore’s overthrow, helping the Los Angeles Angels beat Houston and extend their winning streak to six.
C.J. Wilson (8-5) won his fourth straight start and Mark Trumbo hit his 18th homer for the Angels, who swept three-game series at Detroit and Houston for their first undefeated road trip of at least six games since 2002.
RANGERS 3, REDS 2
ARLINGTON, Texas — Yu Darvish struck out eight in 6 2-3 scoreless innings for his first victory in eight starts and the Texas Rangers scored twice on a squeeze bunt to beat Cincinnati.
Darvish (8-3) won for the first time since May 16, ending his longest professional winless drought — in his two years with the Rangers or seven in Japan before that. The right-hander was 0-2 with a 2.93 ERA in those seven games, when Texas scored only 12 runs while he was on the mound.
The Rangers scored off Mat Latos (7-2) when Elvis Andrus bunted in the fifth.
Latos made a barehanded grab and scoop in one fluid motion.
The toss home hit the earflap of Engel Beltre, who was still down on the ground when Leonys Martin also scored as the ball rolled away.
ATHLETICS 7, CARDINALS 5
OAKLAND, Calif. — Jed Lowrie and Josh Donaldson homered and Tommy Milone overcame a rocky start to win for the first time in nearly four weeks as the Oakland Athletics held off St. Louis.
CUBS 7, MARINERS 6
SEATTLE — Alfonso Soriano and Darwin Barney each doubled twice and the Chicago Cubs built a six-run lead before topping Seattle.
Anthony Rizzo drove in two runs and the Cubs tied a season high by hitting six doubles.
Chicago led 7-1 after four innings. The Cubs’ bullpen, which has blown 16 save chances this season, gave up three runs in the eighth.
Kevin Gregg pitched a hitless ninth for his 13th save.
DODGERS 6, PHILLIES 1
LOS ANGELES — Yasiel Puig capped his sensational first month in the major leagues with his first four-hit game, Stephen Fife scattered four hits over seven scoreless innings and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Philadelphia Phillies 6-1 Sunday.
Puig finished June with 44 hits, surpassing the 42 by Pittsburgh’s Bob Elliott in September 1939 for the second-most in a player’s first full calendar month in the major leagues. Joe DiMaggio had 48 in May 1936.
Puig also eclipsed the Los Angeles Dodgers’ record for most hits in a month by a rookie, set by Steve Sax in August 1982. The Cuban-born right fielder got his first major league triple in the fifth inning and scored on Adrian Gonzalez’s double for a 4-0 lead.
GIANTS 5, ROCKIES 2
DENVER — Madison Bumgarner scattered four hits over seven innings, Hunter Pence hit a two-run homer to help San Francisco end its longest losing streak in three years.
The Giants had lost six straight, their longest skid since dropping seven in a row from June 26-July 1, 2010.
BRAVES 6, DIAMONDBACKS 2
ATLANTA — Freddie Freeman, Dan Uggla and Brian McCann homered, powering Atlanta past Arizona for a three-game sweep in the matchup of division leaders.
Paul Maholm (9-6) gave up two runs and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings for the Braves, who improved to a big league-best 28-11 at home.
NATIONALS 13, METS 2
NEW YORK — Gio Gonzalez pitched seven shutout innings, Ian Desmond homered off a backup catcher and Washington roughed up rookie Zack Wheeler and the Mets.
Adam LaRoche homered and Desmond and Denard Span had RBI doubles in a four-run second to spoil Wheeler’s home debut, which became such a laugher that catcher Anthony Recker pitched the ninth inning.
MARLINS 6, PADRES 2
MIAMI — Jeff Mathis hit a grand slam with one out in the ninth inning, lifting Miami past San Diego.
The Padres deployed a five-infielder, two-outfielder defense for Mathis, and he hit a 1-0 pitch past everyone and into the Padres bullpen.MORE IN Sports WireBOSTON — The emergence of an All-Star and lots of victories made the Celtics one of the biggest... Full StoryTALLADEGA, Ala. Full Story
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