Red Sox

Mookie Betts hits for cycle, but Red Sox fall to Blue Jays, 8-5

Mookie Betts hits for cycle, but Red Sox fall to Blue Jays, 8-5

TORONTO -- Mookie Betts has circled a few potential cycles in his young career, not surprising considering his rare combination of power and speed.

Boston's AL MVP contender finally knocked that milestone off his list with his final swing Thursday night.

Betts homered in the ninth inning to complete his first career cycle during the Toronto Blue Jays' 8-5 win over the Red Sox.

Betts is the 21st Red Sox player to hit for the cycle and the first in the major leagues this season. He singled and scored in the first inning, tripled in the second and doubled in the fourth against starter Ryan Borucki. After walking in the sixth, Betts hit a one-out drive off Ken Giles in the ninth for his 27th homer of the season.

Betts has come up one leg short of the cycle eight times in his career, including twice needing a home run.

"I've had some opportunities before and to finally succeed is a good feeling," said Betts, who has reached base in 25 of his past 42 plate appearances against Toronto.

The 25-year-old Betts is the first Boston player to hit for the cycle since Brock Holt in 2015. Betts, Holt and Leon Culberson in 1943 are the only Red Sox to cycle from the leadoff spot.

The AL MVP candidate was 4 for 4 to raise his major league-best average to .347 with 59 RBIs and a 1.102 OPS. He celebrated his no-doubt homer by lifting a fist and smiling at Boston's dugout.

"You expect greatness with him every night," manager Alex Cora said. "That was cool to see."

Boston (81-35) lost for the first time in seven games but still has the best record in baseball.

Randal Grichuk hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the fifth inning and Teoscar Hernandez added a solo shot to help Toronto avoid a three-game sweep.

Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez hit his major league-leading 35th home run, a solo drive in the fifth.

Boston starter Rick Porcello (14-5) allowed seven runs and six hits in four innings. Porcello lost for the first time since a July 13 home defeat to the Blue Jays, a game in which he allowed a season-worst eight earned runs.

"We've got to take a look at that," Cora said. "That's the second one in a row against them. Breaking balls, fastballs, changeups, they were on him. Location wasn't great, we saw it from the get go, but still. They put some good at-bats against him and that's the second game in a row they've done that."

The right-hander is 1-2 with a 9.15 ERA in four starts against Toronto this season.

"I don't know what it is about their lineup," Porcello said. "They do a nice job against me. They make me get into the strike zone, they draw some walks, and then they do damage. I've got to figure something out against these guys to overcome that."

Borucki (2-2) allowed four runs and a career-worst nine hits in five innings but won his second straight start.

"He really battled," manager John Gibbons said. "There aren't a lot of outs in that lineup and they are hot right now."

Borucki pitched eight shutout innings to beat the Mariners for his first major league win in his previous outing.

TWO FOR TWO

A fan in the left field seats caught two home runs balls, snagging Martinez's drive in the fifth and Grichuk's in the sixth.

HOME RUN DERBY

Porcello has allowed 26 career home runs against Toronto, more than any other opponent. He's surrendered 21 career home runs against Minnesota.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: LHP Chris Sale (mild left shoulder inflammation) threw a bullpen session before the game and remains on track to come off the disabled list and start Sunday against Baltimore. ... Boston moved struggling left-hander Drew Pomeranz to the bullpen and will keep LHP Brian Johnson as a starter after Sale's return.

Blue Jays: RHP Aaron Sanchez (right index finger) allowed four runs and five hits in three innings in a rehab start for Toronto's rookie-level Gulf Coast League team. Sanchez walked two and struck out four. ... Toronto promoted LHP Thomas Pannone from Triple-A Buffalo and optioned RHP Mike Hauschild to Triple-A. Pannone served an 80-game performance enhancing drug suspension earlier this season.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: RHP Nathan Eovaldi (5-4, 3.38) starts the opener of a weekend series at Baltimore. Eovaldi has not allowed an earned run in either of his first two starts for Boston. RHP Dylan Bundy (7-10, 4.38) starts for the Orioles.

Blue Jays: RHP Marco Estrada (5-8, 4.65) starts the opener of a three-game series against Tampa Bay. Estrada allowed one run in seven innings against Seattle in his previous outing, snapping a four-start winless streak. LHP Blake Snell (12-5, 2.27) starts for the Rays.

The Baseball Show Podcast: Sale returns to the DL; Postseason field taking shape

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NBC Sports Boston Photo

The Baseball Show Podcast: Sale returns to the DL; Postseason field taking shape

In this episode of The Baseball Show presented by Twin River Casino, Tony Massarotti joins NBC Sports Boston Red Sox insider Evan Drellich to break down the week in Red Sox news and results:

0:18 - Evan and Tony take a look at the Red Sox 2-0 loss against the Tampa Rays on Sunday, but focus on a bigger-picture issue: Chris Sale's return to the disabled list and what his condition could be for the playoffs.

4:59 - With Sale out of the rotation for now, it's up to David Price to pitch like an ace and he's done just that for the past month. Evan and Tony evaluate Price's recent success.

11:13 - With just six weeks left in the regular season, the American League playoff race is looking as clear as ever. Tony and Evan rank which teams in the race they would rather have the Red Sox play in the postseason and when.

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Beeks, Rays combine on 2-hitter, blank Red Sox 2-0

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File Photo

Beeks, Rays combine on 2-hitter, blank Red Sox 2-0

Jalen Beeks pitched four strong innings against the team that traded him last month and the Tampa Bay Rays limited Boston to two singles, beating the Red Sox 2-0 on Sunday.

Joey Wendle and C.J. Cron homered as the Rays topped the AL East leaders for just the fifth time in 16 games this season. Six of those Tampa Bay losses have been by one run.

Boston, which owns the majors' best record, lost for only the fourth in 21 games and was shut out for the fifth time this season.

Beeks (2-1) gave up one hit in relief, striking out three and walking two. The 25-year-old left-hander was acquired from the Red Sox before the trade deadline for pitcher Nathan Eovaldi.

Sergio Romo worked pitched the ninth for his 16th save and 100th of his career. Reliever Diego Castillo started for the Rays, getting five outs. It was the club's 34th time to have a reliever start, and was Castillo's first major league start.

MORE RED SOX

Boston starter Hector Velazquez (7-1) gave up a run and three hits in four innings. He took Chris Sale's turn in the rotation a day after the ace lefty was put on the 10-day disabled list for the second time in nearly three weeks with mild shoulder inflammation.

Wendle hit his homer into Boston's bullpen in the second. Cron hit his 24th off a billboard above the Green Monster seats in the ninth.

Boston's best chance came with two on and no outs in the fourth, but MLB RBI leader J.D. Martinez bounced into a double play.

MORE RED SOX

STREAK HALTED

Martinez went 0 for 3, snapping his streak of reaching base successfully in home games at 51 straight, the third-longest string in club history. Ted Williams owns the record with 69 in 1941 and Joe Foy is next with 54 in 1966.

NICE PLAYS

Red Sox RF Mookie Betts made a charging, diving catch of Cron's liner in the fourth and 3B Eduardo Nunez made a sliding stop to his left on Tommy Pham's grounder before throwing him out.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rays: C Jesus Sucre returned to the lineup after missing the previous four games with a sore right wrist.

Red Sox: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (10-day DL, sprained right ankle) is slated to have a rehab start for Double-A Portland on Monday. . Knuckleballer Steven Wright (DL, left knee inflammation since late June) is expected to pitch a live batting practice this week.

UP NEXT

Rays: RHP Ryne Stanek (1-3, 2.74 ERA) is slated to start the opener of a four-game series Monday at home against Kansas City RHP Jorge Lopez (0-2, 4.44).

Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello (15-5, 4.04) is set to face Cleveland ace Corey Kluber (15-6, 2.68) when the AL Central leaders come to Fenway Park Monday for the opener of a four-game series.