for this game

Youkilis' hit lifts Red Sox over Blue Jays

Apr 30, 2008 - 3:50 AM By Mike Petraglia PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

BOSTON (Ticker) - Dustin Pedroia saved the game with a diving stab of a potential run-scoring single in the top of the ninth and Kevin Youkilis won it in the bottom half for the Boston Red Sox.

Youkilis singled to center with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to score David Ortiz with the game's only run as the Red Sox edged the Toronto Blue Jays, 1-0, at Fenway Park on Tuesday night.

The Red Sox snapped a five-game losing streak while the Blue Jays lost for the seventh time in eight games.

Jonathan Papelbon (1-0) tossed a scoreless ninth to earn the win after Jon Lester allowed one hit and four walks in eight innings, inducing 15 groundouts against just three flyouts.

"That's pretty exciting," Papelbon said. "From top to bottom, I don't think you could play many major league baseball games better than that. That was just a phenomenal game by both sides. We just happened to come out on the good side of things at home."

Lester struck out six and did not allow a runner past first base.

Tough-luck loser Roy Halladay (2-4) got two quick outs in the ninth before walking Ortiz and allowing a single to Manny Ramirez.

Youkilis followed with his hit to plate Ortiz, who scored without a throw when Vernon Wells briefly mishandled the ball in center field.

"It's tough," Halladay said. "It's real tough. I think sometimes you give up a run in the first and it ends up 1-0, but it's different. There's just something about having to walk off the field like that. It's tough. It's a bad one to come out on that end on."

"It was one of those games," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Both guys on the mound, Lester and Doc (Halladay), did their thing. We almost snuck one through on Papelbon but Pedroia made a great play. Great pitching on both sides is basically what it came down to."

Halladay and Lester each took turns shutting down each lineup.

It was the fourth straight complete game for Halladay (2-4), who induced 15 ground-ball outs and held the Red Sox to just five hits. The veteran righthander is the first pitcher to throw four consecutive complete games since he did it in 2003.

"He's done that his whole career," Gibbons said. "He gives you a chance to win every night he goes out there. He lays it on the line, man, he bleeds. That's why he's the best."

Lester had his strongest outing since throwing 6 2/3 shutout innings on April 2 in Oakland. The eight innings matched his career high, previously set on July 18, 2006, against Kansas City.

"We won so it doesn't matter if I get it or the team gets it," Lester said of his no-decision. "I just want to go pitch and keep my team in the ballgame and hopefully we win at the end of the day."

The lefthander held Toronto hitless through the first four innings, walking only Lyle Overbay with two out in the second.

"The thing Jon did so well tonight, he threw a lot of first-pitch strikes," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "When he did walk somebody, he came right back and got right back down in the bottom of the zone and got a double-play ball. He didn't let it carry over to the next hitter."

Overbay also was the first batter to collect a hit off Lester, lining a clean single over the glove of Pedroia leading off the fifth. But he was immediately erased when Shannon Stewart grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.

"Anytime you go up against a pitcher like Halladay, you know it's going to be a long night," Lester said. "You have to keep your team close and I was just fortunate enough to get a couple of ground balls, get a couple of double plays, and it seems like the further I get into games, the more comfortable I feel with my stuff and what we're trying to do."

Toronto had the chance to take the lead in the top of the ninth when Scott Rolen doubled off Papelbon with two outs. Wells then drilled a line drive that narrowly missed Papelbon's head and appeared ticketed for center before Pedroia made a diving backhanded stop and threw to first for the final out of the inning.

"(Pedroia) jammed his shoulder," Francona said in explaining why he didn't pinch-run for Ortiz in the ninth. "(Pedroia) just wills himself to make plays. I know you have to have talent but the will he has is unbelievable. It's nice to have him on your side."

On a night when third baseman Mike Lowell returned from a sprained left thumb, the Red Sox lost another starter to injury. Right fielder J.D. Drew left with tightness in his right quadriceps after running out a grounder in the second inning. Drew is listed as day-to-day.

The Red Sox were also playing the game without outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who was sitting out with a strained groin.