Red Sox manager Alex Cora was hoping to get four or five decent innings out of spot starter Ryan Weber.
The unheralded right-hander gave Boston a whole lot more.
Weber pitched six impressive innings to earn his first career win as a starter, Steve Pearce homered and had three RBIs and the Red Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays 8-2 on Thursday.
“Just giving the team a chance to win and saving the bullpen was really my main goal,” Weber said. “I’m excited and proud of what I did.”
Weber’s only other big league win came with Atlanta in 2016.
Cora, whose team won a 13-inning game Wednesday and has a weekend series with AL West leaders Houston looming, was happy to give his overworked bullpen a breather.
“Those are the games that set you up for the rest of the week,” Cora said.
Weber (1-0) allowed one run on three hits, walked none and struck out four.
Weber, who had made three relief appearances for Boston this season, started for the first time since May 13, 2017, when he pitched for Seattle against Toronto. Weber left that game after 3 2/3 innings because of a nerve problem in his arm.
“It felt like I got shot,” Weber said.
Thursday’s start gave Weber a chance to wipe that bad memory away.
“Getting back out there at Rogers Centre and going six and getting a win, that was big for me,” he said.
This was Weber’s ninth career big league start. He was 0-4 with a 5.40 ERA in the previous eight.
Pearce had three hits. He singled in the fourth and sixth innings and hit a two-run shot off Ryan Feierabend in the ninth, his first of the season. Pearce was last year’s World Series MVP, but has struggled for most of this season after starting the year with a calf injury.
“He’s in a good place,” Cora said of Pearce, who has six hits in his past four games after collecting seven hits in his first 20 games.
“It feels good to get the ball rolling in the right direction,” Pearce said. “I’ve put in a lot of work this season and I’m glad to finally start seeing the results.”
Rafael Devers had two hits, two RBIs and scored twice as Boston improved to 11-3 in its past 14 road games. The Red Sox have hit 29 home runs over that span.
The struggling Blue Jays lost for the third time in four games, and fell 10 games below .500 for the first time this season. Toronto is 6-15 in May.
Toronto opened the scoring on an RBI double by Freddy Galvis in the third. Weber responded by setting down the next six straight, and 15 of the next 16, before turning it over to Travis Lakins.
“Things could have got out of hand early in the game and he buckled down and got out of the big jam,” Pearce said. “Hats off to him, he did a terrific job.”
Lakins, Ryan Brasier and Hector Velazquez each worked one inning.
Blue Jays left-hander Clayton Richard was activated off the injured list to make his first start of the season. Limited to 60 pitches, he allowed one run and two hits in four innings, walked two and struck out two.
“Physically I felt great,” Richard said. “Clearly, mechanically, there were some issues. I didn’t command the ball as well as I would like to.”
Boston tied it on an RBI groundout by Michael Chavis in the third, then took a 3-1 lead with a two-run sixth against Sam Gaviglio (3-1).
Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. had two hits and scored a run. Bradley went 6 for 18 with two homers in the four-game series.
Red Sox: Boston put RHP Tyler Thornburg (right hip) on the 10-day injured list and recalled Lakins from Triple-A Pawtucket.
Blue Jays: Richard went on the injured list March 29 because of a stress reaction in his right knee. … OF Randal Grichuk got the day off.
Toronto optioned right-hander Jimmy Cordero to Triple-A Buffalo to make room for Richard. Cordero took the loss in Tuesday’s 13-inning defeat, his Blue Jays debut. During the game, Toronto claimed left-hander Zac Rosscup on waivers from Seattle and designated Cordero for assignment.
SWITCHED FOR STANLEY
The Red Sox have moved up the start time of their May 29 game against Cleveland by one hour, from 7:10 to 6:10 p.m. The change was made so fans could also watch Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals, which begins at 8 p.m.
Red Sox: LHP Chris Sale (1-5, 4.31) looks for his first win in four outings when he starts the opener of a three-game series in Houston. LHP Wade Miley (4-2, 3.51) starts for the Astros.
Blue Jays: RHP Trent Thornton (1-4, 4.41) starts the opener of a three-game interleague series against San Diego. LHP Joey Lucchesi (3-3, 4.28) will pitch for the Padres.