Adams drives in winning run in ninth
Blue Jays take series opener, Ryan picks up sixth save
BOSTON -- In the hours leading up to Wednesday's game in Boston, a steady rain pounded the tarp protecting the infield at Fenway Park. The Blue Jays and Red Sox players remained in their respective clubhouses, and everyone from the pressbox to the trainer's room had an eye on the weather radar.
A floating mist finally replaced the falling rain, which cleared the way for a game that was just about as unpredictable as the weather. Toronto and Boston battled back and forth -- roughing up each other's starter and setting the stage for a classic confrontation of untouched closers.
In the end, it was a double by Russ Adams that proved to be the difference in the Blue Jays' 7-6 win over the Red Sox. In the ninth inning, the struggling shortstop pulled an offering from Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon down the line and into a soggy right field to give Toronto the decisive run.
Adams, who is batting .218 this season, became the first player to tarnish Papelbon's ERA since last September. Dating back to last season, Papelbon, who won the American League Rookie of the Month Award for April, hadn't allowed a run in 19 appearances -- a span of 21 1/3 innings. The right-hander hadn't allowed a run in 15 1/3 innings this season.
"I think that's the first run he's given up all year, isn't it?" Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "Russ had that big hit. That's huge."
Some of Adams' teammates were glad to see he was the one that came through, considering his recent skid at the plate.
"Russ hasn't been swinging the bat too well, and he came up with the winning RBI. That's awsome," said Toronto's Shea Hillenbrand, who belted a three-run home run in the seventh inning off Keith Foulke. "You're not relying on one person every night."
Adams' game-deciding hit only set the stage for a dramatic bottom half of the ninth. That's when Toronto brought in its own flawless closer.
B.J. Ryan, who signed a five-year, $47 million deal to be the new Jays closer in November, entered the game with the heart of Boston's order due up. The 6-foot-6 left-hander survived a late scare to pick up his sixth save of the year, and he extended his own personal scoreless streak to 13 1/3 innings to open the season for Toronto (14-12).
"[Ryan] comes in and there's no question he's going right after guys -- these type of guys," said Toronto starter Roy Halladay, who allowed five runs in six innings. "If he's going to get beat, he's going to get beat doing it his way."
Ryan's way this year, simply put, has been by domination. Ryan struck out David Ortiz, forced a line out from Manny Ramirez and then struck out Dustin Mohr. On Mohr's whiff, though, Toronto catcher Gregg Zaun was unable to catch the ball, which scooted to the wall behind home plate and allowed Mohr to reach first base.
With Boston's Jason Varitek at the plate, pinch-runner Willie Harris stole second base and moved on to third base, after Zaun's throw sailed into center field. Ryan didn't falter, though. Instead, he went right after Varitek and struck him out looking.
"It's a typical Fenway game," Gibbons said. "The ball gets away on that one, next thing you know the guy's stealing a base, and he's in scoring position. You get your money's worth here."
So far, Toronto has got its money's worth in Ryan.
"He's phenomal. What I like the most about him [is having] a closer that comes in and works that quick and throws that many strikes," Halladay said. "A lot of great ones -- [like Yankees closer Mariano] Rivera -- he's quick and throws a lot of strikes. When you do that with above-average stuff, you have a pretty good chance."
Ryan's save sealed the victory for reliever Dustin McGowan (1-0), who pitched one inning in relief for the win.
Halladay ran into trouble more than once against Boston. In the third inning, with the Blue Jays leading, 3-0, the Red Sox (15-12) strung together five consecutive singles against the right-hander and tied the game up at 3-3. Two innings later, Mike Lowell and Wily Mo Pena each chipped in RBI singles off Halladay to give Boston a 5-4 lead.
"You could probably count on one finger how many times you've seen [Halladay] get a lead and give it back," Gibbons said. "But hey, they had some good at-bats. He hung in there, and we got the big home run by Hillenbrand."
Hillenbrand's homer in the seventh inning -- a blast that landed in the second row of the Green Monster seats, on top of the famous 37-foot wall -- put the Jays ahead, 6-5. But the Red Sox countered with one run off Scott Schoeneweis in the eighth, just before Boston turned to Papelbon.
"I let my team down," Papelbon said. "I'm just going to take this, learn from it and do my homework, study some film, see what happened and move on."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.