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TORONTO (AP) — Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit a game-winning single in the ninth inning and the Toronto Blue Jays rallied to beat the Boston Red Sox 6-5 on Tuesday night.
Pinch hitter Alejandro Kirk singled to begin the ninth against Tyler Danish (2-1) and George Springer walked. Hansel Robles came on to face Bo Bichette, who drove in pinch runner Bradley Zimmer with a single through the right side. Guerrero followed with an RBI single, driving in Springer with the winning run as the crowd of 27,140 celebrated.
Speaking through a translator, Guerrero said he told manager Charlie Montoyo before his at-bat that he intended to finish the game.
“Charlie sometimes gets kind of nervous, but he told me ‘Well, I trust you guys. If you say so, OK, that’s fine.’” Guerrero said of his game-ending plan.
Guerrero also predicted his game-winning hit when he beat Baltimore with a 10th inning single on June 15, the first such hit of his career.
“A lot of emotions,” Guerrero said of his latest winner. “Boston, they were ahead of us in the division and you’re trying to win those games, win the series, trying to go ahead in the division. I was just fired up.”
Toronto (42-32) moved into second place, a half-game ahead of Boston (42-33) in the AL East.
Jordan Romano (2-2) pitched one inning for the win as Toronto improved to 7-2 against the Red Sox.
The blown save was Robles’ fifth.
Boston closer Tanner Houck, who has six saves, isn’t with the team in Toronto because he isn’t vaccinated for COVID-19.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora bristled when asked how Houck’s absence had impacted his bullpen management.
“We go with the 26 that are here,” Cora said. “We tried to get 27 outs and we didn’t do it.”
Boston lost back-to-back games for the first time since falling to Baltimore on May 30 and Cincinnati on May 31.
Rob Refsnyder hit a game-tying two-run home run in the seventh and Christian Vázquez singled home the go-ahead run in the eighth, but Boston’s bullpen failed to hold the lead.
“After a game like that, fighting back from a deficit, down early, that one hurts,” Danish said. “This one goes on me.”
The Blue Jays jumped on Red Sox right-hander Michael Wacha with a three-run first inning. Teoscar Hernández hit an RBI double and Matt Chapman added a two-run double with two outs.
Story hit a solo home run off Blue Jays right-hander Ross Stripling in the second, but Santiago Espinal restored the three-run lead with a two-out RBI single in the third.
Refsnyder cut it to 4-2 with an RBI groundout in the fifth, then tied it with a two-out drive to center off Trent Thornton in the seventh. The home run was Refsnyder’s second.
Wacha allowed four runs and seven hits in five innings, just the second time in 13 starts he has allowed four or more runs. He walked three and struck out two.
Stripling allowed two runs and five hits in five innings. He posted a 1.59 ERA in five June appearances, four of them starts.
Blue Jays: RHP Nate Pearson will be shut down for three to four weeks because of a strained muscle in his right side. Pearson was injured during a rehab appearance at Triple-A Buffalo.
Red Sox: Boston selected RHP Silvino Bracho from Triple-A Worcester and optioned RHP Connor Seabold to Triple-A. During this road trip, Seabold will remain with the team as a taxi squad player, and could start again Sunday against the Cubs.
Blue Jays: RHP Sergio Romo threw in the bullpen before the game, but was not added to the roster. The veteran reliever is joining the Blue Jays after being cut by Seattle June 20.
Blue Jays CF Raimel Tapia made a diving catch to deny Alex Verdugo in the second.
’It was incredible,” Stripling said. “I gave a pretty good little fist bump, which is not normal for me. I’m usually pretty even-keeled. I think I gave it like a big old Tiger Woods thing. That was awesome.”
Toronto has won three series against Boston in the same season for the first time since 2016.
Red Sox RHP Nick Pivetta (8-5, 3.25) starts Wednesday’s series finale against Blue Jays RHP Alek Manoah (9-2, 2.05). Manoah is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA in three career starts against Boston.