Boston Red Sox Kevin Youkilis, right, and Dustin Pedroia celebrate Youkilis' two-run home run during the first inning of a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays in Toronto on Friday, July 17, 2009. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darren Calabrese)

Clay Buchholz made a triumphant return to the big leagues on Friday night as his solid pitching helped the Boston Red Sox to a 4-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays in front of 32,938 at Rogers Centre.

The Red Sox move to 55-34 and maintain their 3-game lead over the Yankees who also won. The Jays drop to 44-47, 12 games behind the Sox.

Boston Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz pitches against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning of a baseball game in Toronto on Friday, July 17, 2009. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darren Calabrese)Buchholz was outstanding on the bump as he consistently pounded the strike zone for first pitch strikes with his fastball. The very few times where he got into trouble, he kept his composure, which is something he didn’t do last year. He went 5 2/3 innings, allowing 1 run on 4 hits and 3 walks while striking out 3 to pick up his first win in 2009 with the big club.

The Red Sox bullpen which had it’s struggles right before the All-Star Break was much better.

Daniel Bard struck out 3 of the 4 batters he faced in 1 1/3 innings while Hideki Okajima allowed a hit a in an his inning of work. Jonathan Papelbon needed just 8 pitches to pick up his 24th save of the season.

Ricky Romero got the start for the Jays and had an up-and-down game. After struggles in the first, he was pretty much lights out in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th before being chased from the game in the 5th. He went 4 1/3 innings, allowing 4 runs on 5 hits and 5 walks while striking out 8.

Shawn Camp, Jeremy Accardo and Brandon League combined to give up 1 hit while striking out 4 over the final 4 2/3 innings.

David Ortiz had two hits for the Red Sox, including a 2-run double while Mike Lowell had two hits in his return to the lineup. Kevin Youkilis’ one hit of the night was good for a 2-run homer in the 1st inning. Dustin Pedroia had the other hit.

It was nice to see Buchholz pitch much better than we had seen of him last season. For his troubles, he got a ticket back to Pawtucket where he’ll rejoin the PawSox as the Red Sox will activate Jed Lowrie tomorrow. I do hope it was first class at least.

Day baseball tomorrow in Toronto as Brad Penny and Brian Tallet will square off on the mound. First pitch is scheduled for 1:07 PM.