Loewen lifts Jays past BoSox

Toronto Blue Jays Mark Teahen is congratulated by teammate Eric Thames after Teahen scored a run...

Toronto Blue Jays Mark Teahen is congratulated by teammate Eric Thames after Teahen scored a run against the Boston Red Sox in the eighth inning of their MLB American League baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts September 14, 2011. (REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:52 PM ET

BOSTON - It’s been a long, hard road for Adam Loewen these past three years of transition but now that he’s back in the big leagues, he’s making the most of his chances.

Loewen’s two-run single in the top of the eighth inning keyed a three-run rally as the Blue Jays pulled off a 5-4 come-from-behind victory over the Boston Red Sox to earn a split in this two-game series.

In his short career as a major-league pitcher, he never was able to beat the Red Sox. Now he’s done it with his bat.

For the second time in a week, Boston bullpen mainstay Daniel Bard had a total meltdown and Loewen was there to take advantage.

Last week in Toronto, the Jays jumped all over Bard for five runs on their way to a surprise come-from-behind 11-10 win.

When the Red Sox beat the Jays 18-6 on Tuesday, it snapped a five-game Boston losing streak and lessened the pressure being applied by the streaking Tampa Bay Rays. Now the Rays will arrive in Boston Thursday for the start of a four-game series against the Red Sox that could tighten up the American League wildcard race.

Bard was again the author of his own downfall. He walked Edwin Encarnacion and Kelly Johnson on nine pitches to lead off the inning, then threw the ball away at first when Mark Teahen tried to sacrifice the runners along, loading the bases with nobody out.

J.P. Arencibia’s groundout scored one run, then Loewen, who got his first major league hit off Bard last week, drilled a two-run single up the middle to give Toronto the lead.

The rally made a winner of lefthander Ricky Romero who gritted out eight strong innings against a Red Sox lineup that has often had his number. He gave up six hits and four runs (three earned) for his 15th win of the year. “Just an outstanding effort by Ricky today,” said manager John Farrell. “He minimized some damage when we gave an extra out or an extra base in a couple of instances. He attacked the strike zone, he was aggressive, he didn’t give up any extra baserunners via the walk. After what they did to us last night, to come out and shut them down was an outstanding effort.”

The story being written by Loewen this September is, while not entirely unique, an exciting time for the ballclub. He is now hitting .357 but, more importantly, looks as if he belongs.

“It’s crazy,” Loewen marvelled. “I didn’t think I’d be playing this much but I’m ready for it.

“It was exciting for me because the crowd was going nuts. They wanted him to get me out and I quieted them. These last four games have been surreal to me. I still can’t believe I’m here.”

Believe it. And maybe he’s here for a lot longer than most people figured.

“What can you say about him?” said Farrell. “Again, he comes up in a big spot, fights back after getting down in the count and puts a great swing on the linedrive up the middle. That was the difference.”

Loewen may be a rookie as a hitter but he is no stranger to the big league atmosphere.

“He’s got a good feel for the strike zone,” said Farrell. “He took some close pitches even in that final at-bat. He fouled some borderline pitches. He’s got some survival skills at the plate. Really, when you get down two strikes, it becomes as much about attitude as it does about executing a swing.”

Loewen has often talked about how he envied the hitters who were able to deliver in those high-pressure situations. Now he’s doing it himself.

“When you get the bases loaded with nobody out, everybody feeds off that,” he said. “One of my weaknesses hitting with two strikes but as time has gone on, I’ve gotten better at that.”

In the top of the sixth, Brett Lawrie reached base leading off on a hit-by-pitch, Lackey nailing him on the left hip. He stole second and went to third when the throw skipped into centre.

One out later, with the infield drawn in, Loewen hit a grounder to Pedroia at second. His throw beat Lawrie to the plate and catcher Varitek held on despite a big hit by Lawrie, trying to dislodge the ball. Lawrie left the game with a contusion on his left knee, though he dismisses the injury as inconsequential.

Frank Francisco came out of the bullpen to nail down the save in a three-up, three-down ninth with two strikeouts. He was routinely hitting 96 mph on the radar gun, a number he hasn’t reached all year.

“We haven’t seen that kind of power. He’s throwing as good right now as he has at any time this season. Maybe he’s a guy who has to start pitching in January if he’s going to peak in September.”


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