BOSTON (AP) - Toronto had plenty of chances early to prevent a celebration in Boston.
The opportunities were much less frequent later and the Blue Jays wound up on the wrong side of the party Friday night when the Red Sox won 6-3 to clinch the AL East title.
``They've got a great team over there. They really do. They ran away with a good division. It's not even close right now,' Toronto manager John Gibbons said. ``That speaks volumes to how good they are.'
The Blue Jays (70-83) fell 23 games behind Boston in the standings and are the only team in the division that will finish with a losing record.
Jon Lester (15-8) allowed one run on five hits and two walks, striking out eight to win for the seventh time in nine decisions. It was his 100th career victory.
Toronto pinch-hitter Adam Lind hit a two-run homer off Junichi Tazawa in the eighth to make it 5-3 before Koji Uehara got five outs for his 20th save. With the crowd standing for most of the final inning, he struck out Brett Lawrie to end the game and the Red Sox poured out of the dugout and bullpen.
The Blue Jays were 3 for 10 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine.
``That's the key. We've got to get a big hit,' Gibbons said. ``You can always come back in this park with that short left-field wall. You feel like you've got a chance even when you fall behind. We just couldn't take advantage and get that big, big one.'
Dustin Pedroia had three hits for the Red Sox, who have won 19 of their last 25.
Toronto starter Esmil Rogers (5-8) did not make it out of the third inning, allowing two runs on three hits and five walks and striking out two while getting only seven outs.
The Red Sox took the lead early when Pedroia doubled to lead off the first inning, went to third on a fly ball and scored on a wild pitch. Boston had runners on first and second with nobody out but Mike Carp lined out to the shortstop and David Ortiz was thrown out at the plate when he tried to score from second on Jarrod Saltalamacchia's single.
Daniel Nava doubled to lead off the third inning and, after intentionally walking Ortiz, Rogers walked two more to make it 2-0. Chad Jenkins came in and got Saltalamacchia to hit into an inning-ending double play.
Toronto loaded the bases with nobody out in the fourth on a walk, an error by third baseman Will Middlebrooks and a single. But Middlebrooks fielded Anthony Gose's chopper, stepped on third and threw home to get Kevin Pillar in a rundown for a double play. Lester struck out J.P. Arencibia to end the inning.
Rajai Davis singled, stole second and third and scored on Lawrie's single to make it 2-1 in the fifth. But Neil Wagner gave up four straight singles to start the seventh, including an RBI single by Ortiz to make it 3-1.
Jeremy Jeffress came in and got Mike Napoli to ground into a shortstop-to-home-to-first double play. But Mike Carp hit a line drive to left-center that made it 5-1. After Lind made it 5-3, Pedroia added an RBI single in the eighth.
NOTES: Lester is the 11th pitcher in Red Sox history to record 100 victories, and just the third left-hander. ... Toronto CF Colby Rasmus was beaned by a warm-up throw before the bottom of the first inning. Pillar replaced him in the lineup. ... John Farrell is the seventh manager to lead the Red Sox to the playoffs in his first year on the job. The last was Terry Francona in 2004. ... The Red Sox announced before the game that tickets for AL divisional playoffs to be played in Boston will go on sale Tuesday. ... The Yankees' win over San Francisco on Friday ensured that the last-place Blue Jays will be the only team in the AL East to finish the season with a losing record.
The Associated Press News Service
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