Red Sox-Blue Jays Preview
By CHRIS ALTRUDA
(AP) -- For one game at least, Daniel Nava made the Boston Red Sox forget about their struggles and feel good about themselves.
Given Clay Buchholz's track record of late at Rogers Centre, there may be more happy times ahead for the embattled bunch Saturday when the Red Sox continue their series against the Toronto Blue Jays.
In last place in the AL East and playing out the string, Boston (65-80) likely will enter an offseason of sweeping change that may involve a managerial change for the second straight year given its struggles under Bobby Valentine. The Red Sox entered Friday's series opener on a six-game losing streak to Toronto, but Nava did his part - both offensively and defensively - in an 8-5 win.
Nava had a two-run single in the fifth inning that snapped a 3-all tie, but it was his diving back-handed catch in the gap in left-center field in the eighth to keep the game at 5-all that drew raves and allowed Mauro Gomez's two-run triple an inning later to plate the go-ahead run.
"That was awesome," catcher Ryan Lavarnway said. "That's one of the most spectacular catches I've seen all year, especially in a tie game. I'd say that was a game-saving catch."
Nava, who may be playing for a starting role in 2013 after the departure of Carl Crawford via trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers, is 6 for 16 with three doubles in four games at Toronto this year.
Buchholz (11-6, 4.46 ERA) lost to Toronto in his last outing, giving up four runs - the last coming on a go-ahead sacrifice fly - in 8 2-3 innings Monday at Fenway Park, but the change of venue probably will suit him fine. The right-hander has won six consecutive starts at Rogers Centre while posting a 1.27 ERA.
Buchholz got his most recent win north of the border June 1, yielding two runs in eight innings of a 7-2 victory. He is 8-4 with a 2.71 ERA in 13 starts and 14 appearances against them, but dismissed any talk of dominating the Blue Jays.
"Whenever I go out there and have a little bit of confidence running through the first two or three innings, it just builds to make you want to go back out there and make good pitches," he said after that June 1 victory.
Adam Lind has fared well against Buchholz, going 10 for 33 with two homers and one double, but Edwin Encarnacion - second in the AL with 40 homers - is 1 for 14.
Toronto (65-78), which has dropped seven of nine at home, again will send Carlos Villanueva (7-5, 3.48) to try and get the better of Buchholz. He had a good outing Monday, giving up three runs in six innings before leaving without a decision.
The right-hander is 1-0 in two starts and three appearances versus Boston this year, giving up seven runs - all on four home runs - and 12 hits in 13 1-3 innings. While Cody Ross does not have any of those homers, he's 3 for 4 with two doubles versus Villanueva.
Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia is expected to return following a two-game absence after the birth of his second son.
Boston's next loss will guarantee its first non-winning season since 1997.
Updated September 15, 2012