Rios accidentally swatted Alex Cora's fly ball into the stands from about 10 feet in front of the wall for a two-run homer in the seventh inning that gave the Red Sox a 6-4 win Thursday night and snapped their six-game losing streak.
Rios drifted onto the warning track and tried to catch the ball over his left shoulder. It bounced off his glove and dropped to his waist where he attempted to catch it with his barehand but, instead, pushed it over the three-foot high fence.
"It was a reaction play," he said. "I was in a weird position to catch the ball so it was a little tougher play."
The homer off Roy Halladay (16-5) was a rare bright spot for the Red Sox who ended the night eight games behind the New York Yankees in the AL East and three ahead of third-place Toronto.
"If wishing and blowing on it helps, I was helping" manager Terry Francona said. "Sometimes you need a break. We played ourselves into position where a break helps us win a game, not gets us back within four."
"That's why the game's funny," said Mike Lowell, who hit a three-run homer in the first. "You say you trade David Wells, start Tavarez against Halladay, you'd say we have no chance, but look what happens."
Boston's injury-depleted lineup resembled a spring training split-squad road game, missing designated hitter David Ortiz (heart palpitations), outfielders Manny Ramirez (knee), Trot Nixon (biceps) and Wily Mo Pena (sore wrist), catcher Jason Varitek (knee) and shortstop Alex Gonzalez (oblique muscle). Ortiz was released from a hospital Thursday and hopes to play Saturday.
"I don't care what lineup they have out there," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "This is a tough place to win."
Dustin Pedroia was on first when Cora came to the plate with two outs and the score 4-4. Cora, who had not homered in 245 at-bats since Aug. 15, 2005, lofted a fly to right. Halladay gestured in exasperation back in the infield. Cora was 0-for-8 in his career against Halladay before his homer.
"It was a freaky play that you don't see very often," Halladay said. "He's been a pretty good outfielder for us and, hopefully, he can put it behind him."
Manny Delcarmen (2-0) pitched the sixth and seventh for the win, Mike Timlin retired the first two outs in the eighth, and Jonathan Papelbon finished for his 35th save in 41 chances.
Tavarez, making his first start since Sept. 17, 2002, allowed three runs and five hits in three innings. Halladay gave up six runs and seven hits in seven innings.
Lowell's three-run homer was the first time in eight games in which the Red Sox scored more than one run in an inning. Toronto tied it on an RBI double by Aaron Hill in the second and a two-run double by Lyle Overbay in the third.
"It just felt like we've always been playing behind the last week or two. To get a three-run lead, I think, is a little different," Lowell said. "I think we showed more after they came back and tied it up and then we went ahead again."
Javy Lopez put the Red Sox ahead when he hit into a run-scoring double play in the sixth, but the Blue Jays tied it in the seventh on Vernon Wells' infield single following Frank Catalanotto's triple.
"It's good to walk away with a win," Papelbon said. "Win one tomorrow, it's a winning streak. Yeah, it's a good feeling"
|Blue Jays outfielder Reed Johnson misses the ball, allowing Carlos Pena a double in the seventh. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Toronto Blue Jays|
|Reed Johnson, LF||5||0||1||0||0||2||1||.327|
|Frank Catalanotto, DH||4||2||2||0||1||1||1||.318|
|Vernon Wells, CF||4||1||2||1||1||0||1||.321|
|Troy Glaus, 3B||4||0||1||0||0||1||4||.257|
|Lyle Overbay, 1B||3||0||2||2||1||1||1||.310|
|Gregg Zaun, C||4||0||0||0||0||1||3||.265|
|Alex Rios, RF||4||1||2||0||0||1||0||.292|
|Aaron Hill, 2B-SS||4||0||2||1||0||0||1||.286|
|John McDonald, SS||2||0||0||0||0||1||1||.218|
|a- Russ Adams, PH-2B||2||0||0||0||0||1||0||.215|
|a-grounded out for McDonald in the 7th|
|2B - Frank Catalanotto (28, Papelbon), Vernon Wells (33, Tavarez), Lyle Overbay (40, Tavarez), Aaron Hill (23, Tavarez)|
|3B - Frank Catalanotto (2, Delcarmen), Alex Rios (3, Tavarez)|
|RBI - Vernon Wells (91), Lyle Overbay 2 (80), Aaron Hill (39)|
|2-OUT RBI - Vernon Wells (34), Lyle Overbay 2 (37), Aaron Hill (18)|
|SB - Alex Rios (12, 2nd base off Papelbon/Lopez)|
|Team LOB - 8|
|DP - McDonald-Hill-Overbay|
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|Roy Halladay (L,16-5)||7||7||6||6||3||6||2||3.29|
|WP - Roy Halladay (2)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Roy Halladay 118-76, Jason Frasor 14-9|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Roy Halladay 9-5, Jason Frasor 1-2|
|Batters Faced - Roy Halladay 30, Jason Frasor 4|
|Boston Red Sox|
|Coco Crisp, CF||4||1||1||0||0||0||1||.260|
|Alex Cora, SS||4||1||1||2||0||1||1||.257|
|Mark Loretta, DH||4||0||1||0||0||2||1||.299|
|Kevin Youkilis, LF||2||2||1||0||2||0||0||.289|
|Mike Lowell, 3B||3||1||1||3||1||0||1||.288|
|Eric Hinske, RF||3||0||1||0||0||2||1||.258|
|Gabe Kapler, RF||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||.247|
|Javy Lopez, C||4||0||0||0||0||1||3||.254|
|Carlos Pena, 1B||3||0||1||0||0||0||1||.231|
|Dustin Pedroia, 2B||3||1||0||0||0||0||0||.125|
|2B - Carlos Pena (1, Halladay)|
|HR - Alex Cora (1, Halladay), Mike Lowell (16, Halladay)|
|RBI - Alex Cora 2 (16), Mike Lowell 3 (65)|
|2-OUT RBI - Alex Cora 2 (9), Mike Lowell 3 (26)|
|SB - Coco Crisp (19, 2nd base off Halladay/Zaun)|
|Team LOB - 4|
|DP - Pedroia-Cora-Pena, Tavarez-Cora-Pena, Pedroia-Cora-Pena|
|Boston Red Sox|
|Manny Delcarmen (BS,4; W,2-0)||2||2||1||1||0||2||0||3.97|
|Mike Timlin (H,21)||0.2||2||0||0||0||0||0||4.01|
|Jonathan Papelbon (S,35)||1.1||1||0||0||0||1||0||0.93|
|Pitches-Strikes - Julian Tavarez 64-36, Bryan Corey 31-22, Manny Delcarmen 24-16, Mike Timlin 10-6, Jonathan Papelbon 26-18|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Julian Tavarez 3-1, Bryan Corey 3-0, Manny Delcarmen 2-2, Mike Timlin 1-0, Jonathan Papelbon 2-1|
|Batters Faced - Julian Tavarez 15, Bryan Corey 8, Manny Delcarmen 8, Mike Timlin 3, Jonathan Papelbon 5|
|Attendance - 36238|
|Game Time - 2:59|
|Temperature - 68|
|Umpires - Home - Chris Guccione, First Base - Angel Hernandez, Second Base - Hunter Wendelstedt, Third Base - Randy Marsh|