Byrd pitches six shutout innings as Red Sox drop Halladay, Blue Jays

BOSTON -- It was a scene right out of the movies. A former major league right-hander spends the spring and early summer throwing batting practice to his son's team before he returns to the bigs with six shutout innings.

That's exactly what Paul Byrd did Sunday.

Byrd, making his first major league start since last September, held the Blue Jays to three hits and the Boston Red Sox completed a three-game sweep with a 7-0 victory over Roy Halladay and the Toronto Blue Jays.

"I'm throwing to a 13 and under team and the Red Sox called and I say, 'I don't know how long I'll take to get ready,'" said Byrd, still clutching the game ball and wearing the youth league hat in an interview room after the game.

"I'm just so excited to be back. I want a World Series ring," he said. "Hopefully I can help this team get there. I'll clean toilets if I have to, and I told them that."

Byrd (1-0), out of baseball after finishing last year with the Red Sox, signed a minor league contract on Aug. 5. He struck out one and walked three.

"I think he missed competing," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "He's with a team fighting for their playoff life, so he gets to be a part of that, which I think he enjoys."

The win was the sixth in seven games for Boston, which moved 3 1/2 games ahead of Texas in the AL's wild-card race after the Rangers lost to Minnesota, 5-3, on Sunday.

Scoring single runs in each of the first four innings, the Red Sox sent Halladay (13-8) to his third consecutive loss for the first time since last April.

"It's a little tough to pitch when you don't get any runs," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. "We're just not scoring for him, that's all."

The Blue Jays fell to 0-6 in Fenway Park this year and were swept in a three-game series by the Red Sox for the second time this month, losing at the Rogers Centre Aug. 18-21.

Toronto lost for the 11th time in 14 games.

Billy Wagner, acquired by Boston from the Mets for two players to be named Tuesday, pitched one scoreless inning with three strikeouts and one hit in his debut. Takashi Saito, the fourth pitcher, completed the five-hit shutout.

Halladay, shopped at the July 31st trading deadline before he remained with Toronto, is 3-5 since the All-Star break.

"I felt fine. It's a good offensive team. We make a couple mistakes here or there and you don't score runs, it's tough," Halladay said. "Early runs cost you games like that."

Kevin Youkilis' two-out RBI double made it 1-0 in the first after Victor Martinez doubled.

Rocco Baldelli homered into the Green Monster seats leading off the second, extending the team's club-record to 50 homers for the month.

The Red Sox increased it to 3-0 in the third when Dustin Pedroia doubled, advanced on Martinez's groundout and scored on Youkilis' sacrifice fly. Alex Gonzalez had a two-out RBI single in the fourth.

Byrd, known for his throwback windup, escaped a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the fourth when Jose Bautista flied to the right-field warning track.

"It's the same stuff. He looked fresh," Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek said.

The 38-year old Byrd pumped his fist into his glove when he walked off after striking out Adam Lind to end the fifth with a runner on second.

"That part of my life is over," he said. "I just wanted to get through five, plus that was my first strikeout in 11 months."

Toronto reliever Shawn Camp's throwing error allowed two runs in the seventh. Youkilis added a third with an RBI single, making it 7-0.

Game notes
Byrd made four minor league starts before Sunday. ...Toronto SS Marco Scutaro was back in the lineup after leaving Friday's game following a beaning by Josh Beckett. ... Francona said LF Jason Bay needed "a day off" before the game. ... Byrd, who went 2-2 against Toronto last year, last started against Cleveland on Sept. 24. ... RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka, on the 15-day DL since June 21, made a rehab start for Double-A Portland on Sunday. ... Toronto, which lost its eighth straight in Fenway, returns for three games in the regular season's final week.