Wakefield has not won since July 24 against Seattle, a span of seven appearances. The victory looked to finally be in hand before slipping away late, but the knuckleballer wasn't sweating it.
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"If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, it doesn't change what I've done," he said. "I'd like it to happen but more important is for us to get into the postseason. That's our ultimate goal."
Toronto trailed 8-6 heading into the eighth against Bard (2-6), who opened the inning by hitting Brett Lawrie and giving up a single to Adam Loewen, the former pitcher's first career hit. J.P. Arencibia walked before Bard struck out Dewayne Wise and caught Yunel Escobar looking. But the Blue Jays tied it when Bard issued consecutive walks to Eric Thames and Jose Bautista.
Matt Albers came on and gave up a three-run double to Encarnacion.
Bard said he was battling with his control throughout the eighth.
"It kind of came and went as the inning progressed," he said. "I just didn't have very good timing with my delivery."
Bard said Wakefield made sure he didn't hang his head after coughing up the lead.
"When I got in the clubhouse, he was the first guy to come up and shake my hand, pat me on the back," Bard said. "He knows how hard I'm trying. To be that close to getting out of it with the lead intact makes it even tougher. We're trying for him. He did his job today and I didn't do mine."
Bard, who allowed five earned runs, saw his ERA rise from 2.10 to 2.76. He came in having allowed just one earned run in his previous 10 outings.
"I guess it proves he's human," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "Once you get to him you feel pretty good. It was a battle the whole inning. He just couldn't get the last out."
Encarnacion went 2 for 4 with a sacrifice fly and matched a career-high with five RBI.
Adrian Gonzalez led off the ninth with his 24th home run, snapping Francisco's streak of 16 scoreless innings. David Ortiz followed with a single, took second on a grounder and scored on a two-out hit by Marco Scutaro before pinch-runner Mike Aviles was thrown out trying to steal second on an 0-2 pitch to Josh Reddick.
"It's probably the best pitch to get thrown out on," Aviles said. "It wasn't a pitchout but it was up and out. It just didn't work out well."
Blue Jays manager John Farrell called it "a fitting ending to an otherwise crazy game."
Jacoby Ellsbury hit a home run and finished with four hits and Ortiz also went deep, but it wasn't enough for the Red Sox, who missed a chance to gain ground on the first-place Yankees, who lost to Baltimore on Wednesday afternoon.
"It's tough on our team," Francona said. "The whole idea is to win and in the course of winning games, things like what Wake's doing is very special, or will be. It's hard for everybody and I'm sure it's hard for him."
Wakefield allowed five runs, four earned, and three hits in five innings. He walked three and struck out three.
"I struggled the first three innings throwing strikes and put a lot of pressure on those guys from the sixth on through the ninth," Wakefield said. "I take the blame for not getting deeper in the game."
The Red Sox gave Wakefield an early lead by scoring three times in the first against Brandon Morrow. Kevin Youkilis was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and Scutaro hit a two-run single to center.
Toronto answered with a run in the bottom half on Encarnacion's sacrifice fly, then tied it on Arencibia's two-run drive to center in the second.
The homer was Arencibia's 21st of the season, the most in a season by a Blue Jays catcher. John Buck hit 20 home runs for Toronto in 2010.
The Blue Jays took a 5-3 lead by scoring twice in the third. Thames was hit by a pitch, took second on a wild pitch and scored on Bautista's double. Two outs later, Lawrie walked and Bautista stole third. Then, when Lawrie stole second, Bautista broke for home on catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia's throw to second, sliding in ahead of a wide return throw from shortstop Scutaro.
Bautista is the first player to steal home and hit at least 40 home runs in the same season since Adam Dunn did it with Cincinnati in 2004.
Boston reclaimed the lead with a four-run fourth. Reddick hit an RBI double and Ellsbury drilled a three-run blast to right, his 25th.
Ortiz made it 8-5 with a solo shot to right in the fifth, his 29th.
Morrow (9-11) left after Youkilis followed with a single. The right-hander allowed eight runs and eight hits in 4 1/3 innings.
Toronto cut it to 8-6 against Dan Wheeler in the seventh when Escobar hit a leadoff double and scored on a two-out base hit by Encarnacion.
- The Red Sox are 73-3 when leading after seven innings.
- Ellsbury extended his hitting streak to 12 games.
- Boston RHP Josh Beckett (right ankle) was scheduled to rejoin the team Wednesday after traveling back to Boston Tuesday to visit doctors.
- Red Sox RHP Clay Buchholz (back) made 60 throws at over 100 feet Wednesday. He'll take Thursday off, then throw from 120 feet Friday.
- Loewen made his major-league debut as a position player. A former pitcher with Baltimore, elbow injuries forced Loewen off the mound in July, 2008. He has been playing in Toronto's minor league system since 2009.
- Youkilis has been hit by a pitch 81 times, the most in Red Sox history.