TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' string of success against Boston finally came to an end on Friday night at Rogers Centre.
Toronto entered play riding a six-game winning streak and an impressive 10-5 mark vs. its divisional rival this season. A breakout night at the plate for the Red Sox ultimately led to the streak's demise.
The writing was on the wall when right-hander Casey Janssen surrendered a two-run triple to Mauro Gomez in the top of the ninth inning to send the Blue Jays to an 8-5 loss against the Red Sox in front of 21,888 fans.
"As this one turned out, we couldn't keep them from scoring," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said.
Janssen entered with one on and nobody out in the ninth inning of a 5-5 ballgame. The veteran closer retired the first batter he faced, but proceeded to give up a single to Cody Ross to put runners on first and second.
Gomez stepped to the plate and drove an 0-1 cutter to the opposite field. Right fielder Anthony Gose tracked the ball and attempted to make a diving catch in right-center field only to see the ball go just under his glove and roll all the way to the wall.
Two runs came around to score, and Gomez also eventually came home on a sacrifice fly by Ryan Lavarnway. It was a disappointing end to a game that was inches away from yielding a completely different result.
If Gose had been able to make the difficult catch, the game would have remained tied. Unlike Gose, Boston's Daniel Nava came up with the big play late in the game. The Red Sox left fielder robbed the Blue Jays of the go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth by making an incredible diving catch in left field off the bat of Adam Lind.
Instead of Brett Lawrie coming around to score, he was forced to return to second base and would later be thrown out while trying to advance to third in an ill-advised baserunning decision.
"Off the bat, I thought it was in the gap, so I was heading that way," Nava said. "It kind of came back. I think instincts took over. I didn't think I was going to have to dive for it, it just happened. ... It worked out, and it meant a lot to keep that guy from scoring."
Left-hander Aaron Laffey got the start for Toronto and entered with high expectations as two of his best outings this season had come against the Red Sox. He had allowed two runs over 17 2/3 innings vs. Boston, but the results weren't nearly as good this time around.
The 27-year-old Laffey got through the first three innings unscathed before his outing unraveled in the fourth. Laffey allowed the first two batters he faced to reach base and then served up a three-run homer to Lavarnway. Laffey retired the next two batters, but he then walked No. 9 hitter Jose Iglesias.
Farrell opted for a quick hook and went to the bullpen. Laffey was charged with the three runs on four hits while walking three and striking out one. The 3 2/3 innings he pitched marked a season low for his time as a starter, and he hasn't won since Aug. 5 in Oakland.
"A little bit, you never want to come out of the game but at the same time I pitched myself into that situation," Laffey said when asked if he was caught off guard by Farrell's decision. "You can't come out and walk the leadoff guy in an inning right after your team scored you three runs.
"That's like the golden rule of starting pitching -- if your team scores you some runs, you don't go out there and walk the leadoff guy. Definitely of my own undoing, just didn't have it, just wasn't in sharp in that fourth as I was the first three innings."
Boston added two more runs in the fifth following a mental error by Lawrie. With two outs and a runner on second, Lawrie fielded a ground ball at third base. But instead of taking the easy out at first -- which would have ended the inning -- Lawrie attempted to tag out Mike Aviles on his way to third.
Aviles avoided the tag and was ruled safe on the play. Lawrie briefly argued with third-base umpire Todd Tichenor that Aviles had gone outside the baseline, and Farrell also ran onto the field to join in on the argument. But the ruling stood and Nava later recorded a two-run single.
"I went to go tag him, and I don't know, I have to watch the replay -- as far as I'm concerned, he was out of the baseline from what I saw," Lawrie said.
"I didn't tag him, he ended up getting around me. But just got an unfortunate break."
Toronto opened the scoring in the third inning, but that had more to do with Daisuke Matsuzaka's struggles on the mound than it did the offensive production at the plate. Matsuzaka walked three, hit another and issued two wild pitches as the Blue Jays managed to score three runs without recording a single hit or even a sacrifice fly in that frame.
The Blue Jays added one more in the sixth on an RBI single by Yunel Escobar and then completed a comeback effort in the eighth on a game-tying double by Lawrie. But Toronto failed to re-take the lead and the club has lost three of its past four games.