TORONTO -- With their lead atop the AL East getting ever smaller, the Boston Red Sox expect to learn a lot about themselves before the end of the season.
The Red Sox saw their division lead cut to 1½ games -- their smallest edge since late April -- when the Toronto Blue Jays broke through against Clay Buchholz and Jonathan Papelbon for a 6-1 victory Wednesday night.
"We've got to fight through," manager Terry Francona said. "How good of a team you end up being is how you handle adversity. We'll handle it. It's not a lot of fun to lose, it can get frustrating, but how you handle that frustration goes a long way towards how you end up doing."
The Red Sox have lost four in a row and five of six, allowing the New York Yankees to close in. The Yankees beat Baltimore 2-1 Wednesday.
"From now on, you're going to see who is who," shortstop Julio Lugo said.
Russ Adams hit a clinching grand slam in the eighth inning as Toronto swept a three-game series from the Red Sox for the first time since May 2005.
The last time Boston's lead was so slim was April 25, when the Blue Jays were in second place. Boston's biggest lead was 12 games on July 5.
The Red Sox are off Thursday before opening a three-game series at Tampa Bay on Friday night.
"It'll be good for us," Francona said of the day off. "Part of me wants to play tomorrow because you want to get back on track, but we'll take the day off and regroup, get some guys some much-needed rest and some other guys some medical attention."
David Ortiz, who is suffering from a sore knee and may not play Friday, went 0-for-3 with a walk and is 1-for-14 with seven strikeouts in his past four games.
"We faced some good pitching the last few days," Ortiz said. "They pitched good and didn't give up."
Making his first start since pitching a no-hitter against Baltimore on Sept. 1, Buchholz held Toronto hitless until Frank Thomas singled with two outs in the fourth inning.
Buchholz (3-1) made a throwing error in the fifth that put Toronto ahead, and wound up with his first major league loss.
The Blue Jays loaded the bases against Mike Timlin in the eighth, and Papelbon then gave up Adams' slam.
"We had a handle on that game until I came in," Timlin said. "We had a shot and I blew it."
On Tuesday night, Adams hit a go-ahead, two-run double in the eighth against Eric Gagne.
"It was a whole lot of fun," Adams said. "To be playing games that matter in the grand scheme of things in the American League East, it's fun to be a part of it."
Buchholz allowed two runs and five hits in 4 2/3 innings. He walked two and struck out five, throwing 68 pitches.
"I felt fine," Buchholz said. "I thought I was going to be a little rusty but right off the bat I felt good with the fastball command."
The 23-year-old rookie was sent to the bullpen three days after his no-hitter, then threw three scoreless innings of one-hit relief to beat the Orioles on Sept. 6.
Johnny Vander Meer is the only pitcher in major league history to throw consecutive no-hitters, doing it for Cincinnati in 1938.
Buchholz had been unaware of Vander Meer's feat until the day after his own gem. Asked about going for two in a row, the Red Sox rookie said, "Don't hold your breath."
J.D. Drew homered in the fourth to put Boston ahead 1-0, but Toronto chased Buchholz with a two-run fifth.
Ray Olmedo followed with a bunt back to the mound that Buchholz fielded, but his throw to third went down the left-field line, allowing Lind to score.
"We tried to do something that wasn't there," Francona said.
Adams advanced to third and Olmedo went to second on the error. The Red Sox received a break when Adams lifted his foot off the bag and was tagged out by Mike Lowell.
"I wasn't even paying attention," Adams said. "I didn't even know (Lowell) was standing there."
Papelbon, Boston's sixth pitcher, came on with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth. He struck out Lind, but Adams followed by hitting a full-count pitch into the second deck in right field for his first career slam.
"I wasn't able to get the heater in on him," Papelbon said. "I went 3-0 and I battled back from there and he's sitting on a heater and I throw it. I can't walk the guy, I've got the man on third. It's one of those situations where somebody has got to give in and unfortunately it was me."
Litsch allowed one run on two hits in 6 2/3 innings. He walked four and struck out one.
Casey Janssen relieved with the bases loaded in the seventh and Lugo hit a grounder to shortstop that Olmedo bobbled before recovering in time to get the inning-ending out at first.
- Buchholz retired 11 of his first 12 batters, striking out three. He walked Thomas leading off the second.
- Drew has homered against every major league team except Oakland and Texas.