SPORTS

Toronto manager Farrell, Wakefield's former pitching coach, praises 200th win

09/14/2011 01:51 EDT | Updated 01/12/2012 02:19 EST
BOSTON - Toronto manager John Farrell, who used to be Tim Wakefield's pitching coach, wishes the 45-year-old knuckleballer would have earned his 200th victory against someone else.

"We would have liked to prolong that date that he got his 200th a little bit more," Farrell, the Red Sox pitching coach from 2007-10, said after Wakefield reached the milestone on his eighth try in Boston's 18-6 blowout of the Blue Jays on Tuesday night.

"I felt like the way we came out we had every opportunity to (win)," the manager added, "but their offence was obviously very difficult to keep down tonight and they did a great job."

The Blue Jays, who took three of four games from the Red Sox last week in Toronto, scored five runs in the first three innings off Wakefield, the first three on J.P. Arencibia's three-run homer and the last two on Jose Bautista's major league-leading 42nd of the season.

That gave Toronto a 5-4 lead, but as Wakefield shut down the Blue Jays over the next three innings, the Red Sox were en route to the game's next 14 runs and Wakefield had his 200th win.

"It's a heck of an accomplishment," Farrell said of Wakefield winning 200 games, 42 with him as the Boston pitching coach. "He's been a model of consistency in a long, long career here in Boston."

Toronto bullpen coach Pat Hentgen, who retired in 2004, praised one of his contemporaries.

"It's pretty amazing," Hentgen said. "He's one of the few guys in the league that's still in the league from when I was playing. He just perseveres, man.

"He's got that one pitch. He's like Mo Rivera as a starting pitcher. He takes the sting out of the bat and eats up innings. He's been incredible. He's a strike thrower. Occasionally, he gives up a home run, but who doesn't? It's a credit to him for the longevity, to stay in shape and to go out there and compete like that."

Rookie David Cooper had three hits for the Blue Jays, who dropped to the .500 mark. Toronto had won four of its previous five.

"We're in a one-run game and then the four-run sixth they were able to put up certainly spread things open and then it got away from us late," Farrell said.

"(Dustin) Pedroia (two homers, four hits, five RBIs) breaks out of a long slump for him with a big night, (Jacoby) Ellsbury's (four hits, homer, three RBIs) been on fire all year and continued to be so tonight."

Wakefield (7-6) was 0-3 in his previous seven outings. His team's playoff prospects dimmed with losses in its last five games. But on Tuesday night, Boston scored its most runs of the season and moved four games ahead of Tampa Bay, a 4-2 loser to Baltimore, in the AL wild-card race.

"There was some genuine happiness, probably for us, too," manager Terry Francona said. "It seemed like we'd been waiting for that win as long as Wake's been waiting for his."

The Red Sox needed the victory badly after their lead over the Rays had dropped from nine games to three over the previous nine days. And Wakefield was eager to end the long wait to become the 108th pitcher with 200 wins.

"I'm kind of speechless," said Wakefield, who signed with Boston in 1995 after being released by Pittsburgh, "but I'm very grateful that I've been able to wear this uniform for as long as I have and reached a milestone that I thought I'd never reach."

Wakefield went six innings and overcame a shaky outing to retire his last six batters. He left with a 6-5 lead after allowing six hits and two walks. He struck out two.

After the game, Wakefield went on the field and closer Jonathan Papelbon sprayed him with champagne. Wakefield waved and winked to the crowd and then hugged his teammates. The song "Still the One" played on the sound system.

The Red Sox made it 10-5 with four runs in the sixth on a double by Carl Crawford, an RBI single by Jarrod Saltalamacchia, a single by Ellsbury and a three-run homer by Pedroia, his 20th of the year. Pedroia also was on the tail end of consecutive homers with Ellsbury in the fourth.

"I had a clean inning there in the sixth," Wakefield said, "then our offence exploded and made it easier to watch from inside, that's for sure."

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.

Boston took a 2-0 lead on unearned runs in the first, but Toronto went ahead 3-2 in the second on Arencibia's 23rd homer. 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 Bautista homered. Then the Red Sox went ahead to stay 6-5 on the back-to-back homers by Ellsbury, his 27th, and Pedroia. They added four runs in the sixth, one in the seventh and seven in the eighth.

NOTES: Boston DH David Ortiz was in the starting lineup but experienced muscle spasms in his back and 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. ... John Lackey (12-12) pitches for Boston against Ricky Romero (14-10) in Wednesday afternoon's finale of the two-game series. ... Toronto shortstop Yunel Escobar will miss at least the two games in Boston because of a bruised left arm.

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