Verdugo, Martinez power 5-run 1st, Red Sox top Blue Jays 7-3

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DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP) — Alex Verdugo and J.D. Martinez hit back-to-back homers during a five-run first inning, Garrett Richards won his fourth straight decision and the Boston Red Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays 7-3 on Wednesday night.

Kiké Hernández and Christian Vázquez also went deep for the Red Sox, who are 13-6 on the road. Boston has outhomered its opponents 57-32.

Toronto, which lost for only the second time in eight games, got a two-run homer from Marcus Semien. A victory would have moved the Blue Jays past Boston into first place in the AL East.

Verdugo hit a two-run drive and Martinez then ended a 12-game homerless drought with an opposite-field shot to right as the first five batters reached safely against Ross Stripling (0-2). Bobby Dalbec also drove in a run on a double to right.

Boston's right-handed hitters emphasized hitting the ball to right field during batting practice as the wind continued a recent trend of briskly blowing in, especially in the early innings, from left field at TD Ballpark.

Richards (4-2) allowed two runs, seven hits and four walks with five strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings. The right-hander induced three double-play grounders.

Hernández drove a second-inning solo homer through the breeze to left to put Boston ahead 6-1. He had three hits, coming within a triple of the cycle.

Semien’s homer off Garrett Whitlock pulled Toronto to 6-3 in the seventh.

Vázquez hit a solo shot in the eighth.

The first four Toronto batters reached base safely against Richards but the Blue Jays scored just once in the first inning on Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s double. Semien drew a leadoff walk but overran third on Bo Bichette’s double and was thrown trying to return to the base.

Stripling gave up six runs and eight hits in 3 2/3 innings.

RUNNING AHEAD

Red Sox LHP Eduardo Rodriguez ran the bases in preparation for a scheduled interleague start Sunday at Philadelphia. He is 0 for 20 at the plate, including 10 strikeouts, with three sacrifice bunts and one run scored.

MINOR MATTERS

RHP Alek Manoah, taken 11th overall in the 2019 draft by Toronto, allowed one run and struck out 10 for Triple-A Buffalo against Worcester. His ERA through three starts is 0.50.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Red Sox: INF Christian Arroyo (bruised left hand) is nearing the start of a minor league rehab assignment. … INF/OF Danny Santana (right foot infection) could soon be an option to be called up from Triple-A Worcester.

Blue Jays: RHP Anthony Castro (right forearm strain) had a live batting practice session. When he rejoins the team could be determined Thursday.

UP NEXT

Boston RHP Nick Pivetta (5-0) and Blue Jays LHP Steven Matz (5-2) are the scheduled starters in the series finale Thursday night.

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More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Mark Didtler, The Associated Press

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