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Quality matters: Porcello lifts Sox past Blue Jays

BOSTON -- For at least one night, the Red Sox quelled some of the panic about their pitching staff. Rick Porcello turned in his best performance of the season en route to a 4-1 victory over the Blue Jays on Wednesday in the rubber match of a three-game series.

"He was a controlling both sides of the plate," said Red Sox catcher Ryan Hanigan. "That's what we talked about before the game, and it worked out."

Junichi Tazawa had a strong eighth inning, which was significant considering his long track record of struggles against Toronto. Closer Koji Uehara earned the save in the ninth, his fourth of the season.

Red Sox cleanup man Hanley Ramirez provided the big hit, a two-run homer to left in the third. Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz had two-hit games to aid the Boston attack.

Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey took the loss, giving up nine hits and four runs over seven innings.

"Sometimes, believe it or not, you have to give credit to the other side," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "It goes both ways. When they're good, they're good and runs are going to be hard to come by sometimes. The long ball was the difference tonight."

Porcello dominates: There haven't been many occasions this season when a Boston starter turned in a dominant performance, but Porcello's outing against Toronto certainly qualifies. The righty gave up just two hits over seven innings, walking two and striking out six. It was the first quality start for the Sox since Justin Masterson's performance vs. the Orioles on Saturday.

"He gave us exactly what we needed, seven strong innings," said Farrell. "Then turns it over to the bullpen with Taz and Koji doing their job. But as much as we talk about the starter setting the tone, Rick certainly did that." More >

Hanley hammers one: Ramirez hit a towering shot over the Green Monster in the third inning, giving him 10 home runs in April. It marks just the second time in team history a player has hit 10 homers before May 1. The last person to do it was Ortiz in 2006. Ramirez also tied his career high for home runs in a month, equaling his output from June 2008 when he was with the Marlins.

"I just came here to help this team win every day, on a daily basis, and try to win some championships," said Ramirez. "I prepared myself good in the offseason. All the work I put in in the offseason is coming through right now." More >

Missed opportunity: The Blue Jays weren't able to do much against Porcello, and they came up empty in one of the few opportunities they received late in the game. With one out in the seventh, Toronto had runners on first and second, but Dalton Pompey flew out to center field and Josh Thole followed with a weak popup to left. That kept the score at 3-1 and was the Blue Jays' last crack at Porcello before he handed things over to the bullpen.

"That guy, man, it's crazy how hard he hits the ball, isn't it? Oh my goodness. He reminds me of my younger days." -- Ortiz, on Ramirez

"We didn't get a lot of hits, but it sure felt like we were hitting some balls hard. … Dickey pitched good enough to win we just couldn't get anything going. Holding them to four runs at Fenway Park is a pretty good feat." -- Gibbons

Red Sox manager John Farrell tried to get his team another run following a single by Betts in the bottom of the seventh inning. The hit to right by Betts scored Brock Holt, and third-base coach Brian Butterfield also waved Xander Bogaerts around. A strong throw by right fielder Michael Saunders nailed Bogaerts at home. Farrell challenged that Thole blocked the plate before he got the throw. Following a delay of approximately six minutes, the call was confirmed, and the Red Sox had a 4-1 lead. More >

Betts created some excitement early in the game when he raced back to the wall in center and made a brilliant over-the-shoulder catch to rob Devon Travis of extra bases to open the third inning. More >

The Blue Jays are guaranteed of finishing March/April with a losing record for the third consecutive year. The Blue Jays (10-12) are a combined 32-44 (.421) over those two months dating back to 2013, which ranks 13th in the American League.

Though much has been made about the struggles of Boston's pitching rotation, opponents have only produced four quality starts against the Red Sox in 21 games.

Blue Jays: The Blue Jays will travel to Cleveland to open a four-game series against the Indians on Thursday night at Progressive Field. Rookie left-hander Daniel Norris will start for Toronto as he looks to build on a strong seven-inning outing against the Rays. Norris allowed one run on five hits while striking out seven and walking three. More >

Red Sox: Following a day off on Thursday, the Red Sox welcome the Yankees to Fenway Park for a three-game series that begins on Friday night. Righty Justin Masterson draws the start, and he'll be opposed by lefty CC Sabathia. The Sox took two out of three from the Yanks in New York on April 10-12. More >

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Ian Browne is a reporter for Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB.
Read More: Rick Porcello, Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez, R.A. Dickey