Boston Red Sox's Jason Bay, right, is congratulated by teammate Mike Lowell (25) after Bay's two-run home run off Toronto Blue Jays starter Robert Ray during the first inning of their baseball game in Boston, Thursday, May 21, 2009. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Jason Bay hit yet another 2-run home run and Jon Lester gave the Boston Red Sox a quality start as they went on to a 5-1 win to sweep the Toronto Blue Jays in front of 38,347 on a beautiful New England night for baseball at Fenway Park.

The win moves the Red Sox (25-16) to within a ½ game of the Blue Jays (27-17) for first place in the American League.

Boston Red Sox starter Jon Lester tips his cap to fans as he leaves during the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays in their baseball game in Boston, Thursday May 21, 2009. Lester got the win in the Red Sox 5-1 victory. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)After two bad outings, Lester started to show the form he had in 2007. While he only had one clean inning, he was able to work himself out of trouble. He went 6 1/3 innings, allowing 1 run on 8 hits and 2 walks while striking out 4.

Ramon Ramirez went 1 2/3 innings, giving up 2 hits and a walk while striking out 2. Jonathan Papelbon worked the 9th in a non-save situation and allowed a hit and had a strikeout while mostly using his offspeed stuff.

Robert Ray made just his 4th big league start tonight and it wasn’t a good one.  He lasted just 4 1/3 innings, allowing 5 runs (4 earned) on 6 hits and walk while striking out 4. Brandon League, Jesse Carlson and Jason Frasor combined to give up just a hit in the final 3 2/3 innings.

All of the hits from the Red Sox tonight came from the top 6 in the batting order. Bay’s one hit of the night was the 2-run homer that bounced off the top of the bullpen wall. Dustin Pedroia led the Red Sox with 2 hits and added an RBI. David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis each had a hit and an RBI while Jacoby Ellsbury and J.D. Drew had the other hits with Ellsbury adding a stolen base.

Ellsbury wasted no time extending his hitting streak to 16 games as he led off the bottom of the 1st with a double.  He moved to third on a Pedroia ground out and came into score when Big Papi grounded out to second. Youk ended up working a 2-out walk and Bay followed with the 2-run homer to give the Red Sox a 3-0 lead.

The home run for Bay was his 11th straight with at least one runner on base. That is a Red Sox team record and is one shy of the MLB record held by by Ken Griffey and Hank Aaron.

After Ellsbury grounded out to second to start the 3rd inning, Pedroia doubled to deep center. Big Papi moved him up to third with a ground out and he came around to score on a Youkilis single, making it 4-0 Red Sox.

Julio Lugo reached on a throwing error by Marcos Scutaro and bad call by the first base umpire John Hirshbeck who ruled that Kevin Millar wasn’t on the bag to start the 5th. The replay showed he was but nonetheless Lugo was at first. He was quickly retired at second base though on an Ellsbury fielder’s choice. With Pedroia at the plate, Ellsbury stole second base, his 17th stolen base of the season. Pedroia ended up bringing him in with a single to increase the local nine’s lead to 5-0.

Lester started the 7th inning by getting Rod Barajas to pop out. He then walked Jose Bautista and Scutaro chased him from the game with a single. Ramriez came in and allowed a single to Aaron Hill that scored Bautista to cut the Red Sox lead to 5-1.

It was good to see Lester improve on his last two starts. He had said last time out that he would do everything he could to be better. He was definitely better tonight but not great. But the job he did was enough to keep lead for the Red Sox and allow them to get closer to the top of the AL East.

Interleague play starts tomorrow night and the Red Sox will host the New York Mets. Daisuke Matsuzaka returns from the disabled list to make the start. He’ll be opposed by one of the best pitchers in the game in Johan Santana. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM.

Notes and musings:

Toronto Blue Jays @ Boston Red Sox 5.21.09 box score

John Smoltz pitched 3 innings tonight for the Single-A Greenville Drive in a rehab start. He went 3 innings and allowed a hit while recording two strikeouts.

Mark Kotsay (15-day DL – back surgery) is expected to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Yankees)

Jonathan Papelbon now has 124 saves in his career, 8 shy of tying Bob Stanley (132) for the Red Sox record.

Last night marked the 1,360th career game for Jason Varitek, passing Frank Malzone (1,359) for sole possession of 10th place on Boston’s all-time list. The late Dom DiMaggio is 9th at 1,399.

Terry Francona is now 5 wins away from 500 in his Red Sox career.

The win tonight gave Boston its first 3-game sweep over the Blue Jays since May 8-10, 2007 in Toronto and the first at Fenway Park since August 16-18, 2004.