The Red Sox needed the victory badly after their AL wild-card lead over Tampa Bay had dropped from nine games to three over the previous nine days. And the 45-year-old knuckleballer was eager to end the long wait — 0-3 in seven outings since his last win July 24 — to become the 108th pitcher with 200 wins.
Wakefield (7-6) went six innings and overcame a shaky outing to retire his final six batters. He left with a 6-5 lead after allowing six hits and two walks. He struck out two.
The crowd at Fenway Park clapped and chanted "Wakefield! Wakefield!" as Junichi Tazawa pitched the ninth for Boston, which moved four games in front of the Rays. Tampa Bay lost 4-2 at Baltimore.
The Red Sox added to their cushion with four runs in the sixth on a double by Carl Crawford, an RBI single by Jarrod Saltalamacchia, a single by Jacoby Ellsbury and a three-run homer by Pedroia, his 20th of the year.
Pedroia, who tied his career high with five RBIs, also was on the tail end of consecutive homers with Ellsbury in the fourth.
Pedroia went 4-for-5 with two homers, two doubles and a sacrifice fly after going 3-for-31 on the road trip that ended Sunday with Boston losing six of seven games. Ellsbury also had four hits and Crawford had three as Boston finished with 18.
Brandon Morrow (9-11) left after Crawford led off the sixth with a double and took third on Marco Scutaro's sacrifice. Luis Perez allowed hits to the only four batters he faced, starting with Saltalamacchia's single that made it 7-5.
Alfredo Aceves relieved Wakefield in the seventh and worked two scoreless innings. Tazawa, just recalled from the minors, finished up.
Boston took a 2-0 lead on unearned runs in the first when Pedroia doubled, Adrian Gonzalez walked, Kevin Youkilis was hit by a pitch and Josh Reddick was safe on a two-base throwing error by first baseman David Cooper.
Toronto went ahead 3-2 in the second on J.P. Arencibia's 23rd homer, a three-run shot. But the Red Sox made it 4-3 in the bottom of the inning on an RBI double by Ellsbury and Pedroia's sacrifice fly.
Wakefield gave the runs right back in the third when the Blue Jays took a 5-4 lead as Eric Thames led off with a single and Jose Bautista hit his major league-high 42nd homer.
Then the Red Sox went ahead to stay 6-5 on the back-to-back homers by Ellsbury, his 27th, and Pedroia.
Wakefield's previous start also was against the Blue Jays and he left that with an 8-5 lead last Wednesday. But the bullpen failed and Toronto came back for an 11-10 win, forcing Wakefield to keep waiting for that elusive 200th win.
But on Tuesday, the Red Sox kept adding to their lead with four runs in the sixth, one in the seventh and seven in the eighth. Saltalamacchia's three-run double highlighted Boston's final inning at the plate.
NOTES: Youkilis returned to the lineup after missing three games with bursitis in his left hip and a sports hernia. He had been on the disabled list from Aug. 18 to Sept. 2 with a back injury. Youkilis said the three injuries are related to each other. ... Red Sox DH David Ortiz left the game with back spasms before he even had a chance to hit. He was replaced by pinch-hitter Jed Lowrie in the first. ... Morrow is 0-4 in his last four starts and 1-6 in his last eight. ... Scutaro's double in the eighth was his 1,000th career hit. ... John Lackey (12-12) pitches for Boston against Ricky Romero (14-10) in Wednesday afternoon's finale of the two-game series. ... Wakefield's ERA increased from 5.03 to 5.13. ... Toronto shortstop Yunel Escobar will miss at least the two games in Boston because of a bruised left arm.