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Former Fisher Cat Stroman masters Red Sox

The Sports Xchange

July 24. 2014 9:07PM

Toronto starting pitcher Marcus delivers a pitch against Boston Red Sox at Rogers Centre. (Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)

TORONTO — John Gibbons felt some relief when Marcus Stroman lost his no-hitter in the seventh inning of the Toronto Blue Jays’ 8-0 win over the Boston Red Sox on Thursday afternoon.

If Stroman’s mastery had continued, the Blue Jays manager would have faced a difficult decision. Would he let Stroman, a New Hampshire Fisher Cat in 2012-13, go for the no-hitter or take the rookie right-hander out to protect him from a mounting pitch count?

It was a question Gibbons could not answer.

Boston right fielder Shane Victorino led off the seventh with a soft single to center.

“It was getting a little hairy there,” Gibbons said. “If he keeps that no-hitter going. ... I can’t say that I’m glad he gave up a hit, but ... It was going through my mind. If he keeps going, you’ve got a young kid, you’re trying to win a division, do you keep throwing him out there? I don’t know if relieved is the word, but it didn’t hurt.”

By that time the Blue Jays (54-49) were on their way to their third win in a row after losing 14-1 in the opener of the four-game series with the Red Sox (47-55) on Monday.

First baseman Juan Francisco led the offense with a home run and four RBIs and was a double short of hitting for the cycle.

The Blue Jays totaled 14 hits, including three doubles and two RBIs by left fielder Melky Cabrera to complete a 5-2 homestand.

Stroman (6-2) struck out seven and allowed two walks in seven innings to win his second start in a row — both times going seven shutout innings — and his third straight decision in six starts.

Stroman finished with 97 pitches against the Red Sox.

Gibbons was asked if he would have let Stroman stay in if he still had a no-hitter.

“You’ll never know,” he said.

Stroman said, “I think they would have let me go. They’re definitely watching pitches. It would have been tough.”

Red Sox manager John Farrell said, “He had good stuff. He was able to get the ball on the ground, get a ground-ball double play when he needed to. A couple of different types of breaking balls, with a pretty good power slurve along with a cutter.”

Stroman said, “I had trouble actually locating my four-seam fastball and I went to the sinker today. That was a huge pitch for me.”

He said started to think about the no-hitter in the sixth inning.

“I looked up and saw a zero and said this is pretty crazy,” he said.

Stroman said Victorino hit “a bad curveball” to end the bid.

“It just kind of hung up there,” Stroman said. “(Catcher Dioner Navarro) came in and said, man, you should have spiked it. We were pretty mad at each other.”

After Victorino’s hit, designated hitter David Ortiz lifted a fly to left for the first out and first baseman Mike Napoli grounded into a double play.

Red Sox right-hander Rubby De La Rosa (3-3) allowed nine hits, two walks and seven runs (six earned) in four-plus innings.

“I was trying to make my changes, trying to make ground balls, but they were making adjustments,” De La Rosa said. “Yeah, it’s not mechanical. Every pitcher tries to make his best pitches. It’s a little complicated. What happened today, I’ll try not to think about it and look forward for the next one.”

Right-hander Todd Redmond took over in the eighth inning and allowed a walk. Left-hander Rob Rasmussen pitched the ninth, walking two batters before getting a double play grounder from Victorino. Ortiz then left the game after he was hurt while checking his swing on ball two.

“He felt some spasm in the upper-mid back; we’re still examining him right now, and it’s right now day to day,” Farrell said.

Outfielder Jonny Gomes pinch hit and ended the game with a fly ball.

Francisco hit his 15th homer of the season to score two runs in the third inning. He also drove in two runs in the fifth with a single against right-hander Burke Badenhop.

NOTES: The Blue Jays go on the road for their next 10 games starting Friday in New York when LHP Mark Buehrle (10-6, 2.86 ERA) will start against Yankees RHP Hiroki Kuroda (6-6, 3.88 ERA). ... The Red Sox open a three-game series at Tampa Bay tonight and will start LHP Jon Lester (10-7, 2.50 ERA) against LHP David Price (10-7, 3.60 ERA).

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