TORONTO—Mookie Betts set the early tone for the Boston Red Sox last night and delivered the final blow, too.
He hit a lead-off homer off Toronto starter Aaron Sanchez and later burned reliever Danny Barnes with a two-run shot as the Red Sox edged the Blue Jays 4-3.
Betts has eight homers on the season and owns the Red Sox franchise record with 14 career lead-off homers.
“He's at the top of the game," said Jays' manager John Gibbons. ”He can beat you so many ways.
“He'll be one of those guys who'll be in the MVP running every year, I would have to believe.”
Brock Holt had three hits and scored twice as the Red Sox ended a three-game losing skid.
Craig Kimbrel worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his sixth save.
Boston improved its major league-leading record to 18-5.
Yangervis Solarte hit a solo homer for the Jays, who fell to 14-9.
“That's a good team over there so we know we've got to battle all nine, which they showed and which we did,” Betts said.
“It's pretty cool to get a lead finally.”
The teams will play the rubber game in the three-game series tonight at Rogers Centre.
Toronto's opening run in the first inning was unearned after an error by third baseman Rafael Devers.
His throw on a Justin Smoak grounder was wide and bounced into the seats, allowing Steve Pearce to score from second base.
Boston had a chance to break the game open in the fifth inning but settled for a single run thanks to some solid defensive play by the Jays.
After Sanchez walked Jackie Bradley Jr. and hit Christian Vazquez with a pitch, Holt doubled to bring home Bradley with the go-ahead run.
Betts flew out to right field and Teoscar Hernandez delivered a strong throw to keep Vazquez at third.
Sanchez walked Andrew Benintendi to load the bases but Toronto turned a slick 4-6-3 double play on a Hanley Ramirez grounder to keep it a 2-1 game.
Recent call-up Lourdes Gurriel Jr. showed off his speed in the bottom half of the fifth—and it paid off with a run.
He legged out an infield single, stole second, and then beat the throw home when Pearce lifted a flare into left field.
Solarte gave Toronto its first lead of the game in the sixth inning when he smacked the first pitch from Eduardo Rodriguez for a no-doubt shot.
It was his team-leading sixth home run of the season.
Solarte felt the Jays came close on a couple of deep fly-outs off Rodriguez (3-0), who allowed six hits, three earned runs, and a walk over 6 2/3 innings.
“I think we missed some pitches that we could have hit better,” Solarte said.
“I think he got lucky a couple of times and we didn't take advantage of it.”
Elsewhere in the AL, New York beat Minnesota 7-4, Tampa Bay dumped Baltimore 8-4, Houston downed L.A. 5-2, Seattle edged Chicago 4-3, and Texas doubled Oakland 4-2.