Hazelbaker comes up big for Red Sox in win

Hazelbaker comes up big for Red Sox in win

Hazelbaker comes up big for Red Sox in win
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Right fielder Jeremy Hazelbaker hit a two-run homer in the top of seventh inning to give the Red Sox a 3-2 victory over the Blue Jays on Monday afternoon at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.

The game was called in the bottom of the eighth inning due to rain.

Hazelbaker's home run came on the first pitch he saw from Blue Jays reliever Carlos Villanueva. It marked Hazelbacker's first hit in four Grapefruit League games.

"To see that swing, I'll take that bus ride any day," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "That ball came off his bat good."

Blue Jays second baseman Aaron Hill recorded a pair of doubles and an RBI in a losing cause for Toronto. He has gone 6-for-10 with three doubles over his past three games, and he appears to be returning to form after being limited throughout Spring Training following a right quadriceps injury.

"He's getting pitches on the plate and in the zone that he's putting good swings on," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "Even when he was battling his quad ... that hasn't been any different than how he has swung the bat from the get-go this spring. [It's] encouraging to see, and I know he feels pretty good where he's at as far as not only repeating his swing, but what he's doing at the plate."

The Red Sox's only damage off Blue Jays starter Kyle Drabek came in the top of the third inning on an RBI single by Mike Cameron. Drabek allowed just one run on five hits while striking out five batters in five innings. He threw 37 of his 61 pitches for strikes in his final outing of the Grapefruit League season.

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"The one thing that we're seeing is that even when he's not as sharp with his overall command, he's still been efficient," said Farrell of Drabek, who opens the year as the club's No. 2 starter. "He's making very good strides to start on Saturday and beyond."

Right-hander John Lackey was expected to start for the Red Sox but he stayed behind to pitch in a simulated game at Fort Myers, Fla. The decision was made because of forecasted rain showers that were expected to interrupt Monday's game against Toronto. Tony Pena Jr. threw three innings in Lackey's place. He allowed one run on two hits while striking out one.

The game was delayed for 21 minutes before the start of the sixth inning because of rain, then resumed before it was ultimately called.

The win snapped the Red Sox's 10-game Grapefruit League losing streak. Francona didn't make too much of that.

"Actually it's funny, because I don't think most of the players knew, because they play and leave," he said. "I think 'perspective' is a big word."

Up next for Red Sox: Boston concludes Grapefruit League play at City of Palms Park on Tuesday, with a 1:05 p.m. ET matchup against the Rays. Starting for the Red Sox will be right-hander Clay Buchholz, who has a 3.71 ERA in 17 Grapefruit League innings. Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield is also slated to pitch. Getting the start for the Rays will be Wade Davis. After that, Boston heads to Houston for an exhibition game against the Astros on Wednesday. Two days later, it's Opening Day.

Up next for Blue Jays: Left-hander Brett Cecil will make his final start of the Grapefruit League season when the Blue Jays visit the Twins in a 1:05 p.m. start on Tuesday afternoon. Cecil has been experiencing a loss of velocity during his spring outings. The 24-year-old normally throws in the low 90s, but his fastball has consistently registered around 86-87 mph. Cecil says his arm feels fine and the issue might be related to mechanics. Cecil is 0-2 with a 5.30 ERA in five starts in the Grapefruit League season.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.