TORONTO (AP) - Carlos Villanueva says he doesn't have anything to prove, but it sure seems as if he's pitching with a purpose in mind: winning a job as a regular starter.
Pedro Ciriaco drove in the tiebreaking run with a two-out double in the ninth inning Saturday, Cody Ross hit a solo homer and the Boston Red Sox won their second straight, beating the Toronto Blue Jays 3-2.
Villanueva didn't figure in the decision but was sharp, matching his longest start of the season by allowing two runs and four hits in seven-plus innings. He walked two and struck out six.
``He's been very consistent,' Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. ``On the days he starts for us, he's dependable. We know what we're going to get from Carlos and that's typically four pitches for strikes and keeping the game in control and he did it again today.'
Earlier this week, Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said he's not completely sold on Villanueva, who has started just 54 of his 299 career games.
``I don't want to doubt him,' Anthopoulos said Wednesday. ``But I have to also be objective and realistic too.'
Villanueva, who had won just once in his previous eight starts, said he wasn't thrilled with his GM's words, but remains confident in his abilities.
``In my mind I've proven what I can do,' Villanueva said. ``I'm sure somebody else out there will take a chance on me.'
The right-hander can become a free agent at the end of the season, giving him extra motivation to finish strong.
``Obviously I'm happy that I'm putting myself in a good position,' he said.
Villanueva was gone by the time the Red Sox pushed across the winning run with a ninth-inning rally after stranding runners at third base three times in the previous five innings.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia led off with a double against Steve Delabar (4-2), Ryan Lavarnway struck out and Saltalamacchia moved to third on Mike Aviles' flyball before scoring on Ciriaco's double to left.
``It's a good sign we're not laying down and dying,' Saltalamacchia said. ``We're continuing to fight even though we're as far out as we are. It shows a lot about this team.'
The victory moved Boston out of last place in the AL East, percentage points ahead of the Blue Jays, who have played two fewer games.
Manager Bobby Valentine praised Ciriaco, whose hit boosted his average to .300.
``His at_bats are as good as anyone on the team,' Valentine said. ``Everyone knows he can hit a fastball and he hits a 2-1 breaking ball. He's a good player.'
Craig Breslow (1-0) worked one inning for the win and Andrew Bailey finished for his fourth save in five chances.
Boston's past three victories have seen the winning run scored in its last at-bat. Jacoby Ellsbury singled home Ciriaco in the ninth inning of Tuesday's 4-3 win over the Yankees, and Mauro Gomez hit a two-run triple in the ninth inning of Friday's 8-5 win at Toronto.
The Red Sox loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth but failed to score. Delabar fell behind 3-0 on Ross but came back to strike him out, then got James Loney to pop up to end the threat.
Boston also stranded runners at the corners in the fourth and left a runner at third in the seventh.
The Blue Jays took the lead with a two-out rally in the first. Edwin Encarnacion walked, went to third on Adam Lind's double and scored on Yunel Escobar's single. Third base coach Brian Butterfield waved Lind home as well, but Lind was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.
Ross tied it with a leadoff homer in the second, his 21st, and the Red Sox took a 2-1 lead in the fourth on Saltalamacchia's two-out RBI single to center.
Toronto tied it again in the fifth. Anthony Gose led off with a single and stole second before Rajai Davis reached on a fielding error by Ciriaco.
Both runners moved up on Brett Lawrie's sacrifice bunt and Encarnacion was walked to load the bases for Lind, who hit a sacrifice fly to shallow center, with Gose streaking home ahead of Ellsbury's throw.
Ellsbury was charged with an error when the ball bounced away from Saltalamacchia, allowing the runners to move up, but Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz escaped by getting Escobar to ground out.
Buchholz failed to extend his six-start winning streak at Rogers Centre, giving up two runs, one earned, and four hits in seven innings. He walked five, one intentional, and struck out five.
``He threw the ball exceptionally well,' Valentine said. ``Good fastball down, really good curveball today and split.'
NOTES: 2B Dustin Pedroia returned to Boston's lineup after missing the past two games. Pedroia left after six innings Wednesday when his wife went into labor with the couple's second son, Cole. ... Of Ross' 21 homers this season, 11 have either tied the score or given Boston the lead. ... Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said he would like to add an extra outfielder once International League champions Pawtucket finish its season with Tuesday's Triple-A championship game against the Pacific Coast league winners.
The Associated Press News Service
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