B.J. Ryan celebrates with Curtis Thigpen after closing the door on the Red Sox in the 9th inning.

The Boston Red Sox left 16 runners on base and the Toronto Blue Jays took advantage of Jon Lester early to win 6-3 in front of 40,554 at Rogers Centre. The win for the Jays keeps their very slim playoff hopes alive and the loss for the Red Sox drops their lead to 6.5 games in the wild card over the New York Yankees as the magic number stays at 2.

Jon Lester struggled early on for the Red Sox as the Jays scored 5 early runs.

Jon Lester struggled early on for the Red Sox as the Blue Jays scored 5 runs in the first 2 innings.

Jon Lester was not his usual self for the first two innings but settled down after that. He threw 45 pitches in the first 2 innings and 57 over his final 5 innings of work as he was charged with 5 runs on 8 hits and 3 walks. He did strikeout 4. Justin Masterson worked an inning allowing a run on a hit.

Jason Bay celebrated his 30th birthday today by going 2-for-3 with a home run and 2 RBI. David Ortiz had the other RBI as he was 1-for-3 with a walk. Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and Coco Crisp had the other hits for the visiting in the losing effort.

Roy Halladay wasn’t the same Halladay we are used to either as he struggled with his location all though home plate umpire Jim Reynolds was squeezing both pitchers.

Ellsbury led off the 1st with a single and stole his 49th base of the season with Pedroia at the plate. A long fly out by Big Papi moved Ellsbury to third. As Halladay was striking out Youk, Pedroia stole second but Bay flew out to left to end the threat.

Marco Scutaro got things going for the Jays with a leadoff single. He went to second on a Jose Bautista ground out and came into score on an Alex Rios single.

More trouble for Lester in the 2nd inning.

Scott Rolen started it with a single and went to second on a walk to Kevin Mench. Curtis Thigpen sacrificed the runners and then Lester plunked John McDonald. Scutaro followed that with a double scoring Rolen and Mench as McDonald was stopped at third. Bautista made it 4-0 Jays as his single scored McDonald. Rios then hit an grounder to Cora who threw home but the throw hit the back of Scutaro who scored and the error allowed Bautista to be safe at third and Rios at second. Lester walked Vernon Wells to load up the bases but got a big double play off the bat of Lyle Overbay.

The Red Sox chipped away at the lead in the 3rd inning.

Jason Bay gets some love from Big Papi after his 2-run homer cut the Jays lead to 2.

Jason Bay gets some love from Big Papi after his 2-run homer cut the Jays lead to 2.

After an Ellsbury ground out to start the 3rd, Pedroia doubled and came in to score as Big Papi beat the shift with a single. Halladay got Youk to fly out for the second out but left a pitch out over the plate that Bay drove over the left field wall for a 2-run homer to cut the Jays lead to 5-3.

That’s as close as the Red Sox would get as they were unable to take advantage of their opportunities.

The Jays added an insurance run in the 8th when Rolen led off with a home run off of Masterson and B.J. Ryan closed the door on the Red Sox in the 9th.

The rubber game of the series is tommorow as Daisuke Matsuzaka toes the rubber for the Sox and he will be opposed by rookie Scott Richmond.

Notes and musings:

Red Sox @ Blue Jays 9.20.08 boxscore

This is the 2nd consecutive year and 6th time in the last 7 seasons that the Red Sox have won at least 90 games. Sox have also posted 90+ victories in 8 of last 11 years and 26 times in club history.

Terry Francona has guided the Red Sox to 90+ wins 4 times in 5 seasons as the club’s manager, the most in team history. Bill Carrigan won 90+ games in 3 consecutive seasons from 1914-16.

Coming into today, the Red Sox are hitting just .226 (119-527), lowest vs. any team in 2008, with 54 runs in 16 games against Toronto.

The Red Sox qualified for post-season play 4 times in 5 years from 2003-07. Club was a wild card entry in 2003, 2004, and 2005 before winning A.L. East crown in 2007. The only other ML team who had as many playoff appearances in that stretch was the Yankees, who went to the post-season all 5 years. Entering this season, Boston has been to the post-season 18 times, 3rd most among A.L. clubs behind the Yankees (45) and A’s (23).

Manny Delcarmen is the 1st Sox pitcher to appear in at least 70 games since Mike Timlin led the A.L. with 81 games in 2005.

Two of Delcarmen’s 3 career wins are against the Blue Jays.

Sox on streaks:

Jacoby Ellsbury has an 11-game hitting streak

Jason Bay has a 5-game hitting streak

Mike Lowell has a 3-game hitting streak

Kevin Youkilis has a 3-game hitting streak