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TB@BOS: Buchholz fans six over seven strong frames

The two teams that will kick off a three-game series in Toronto on Friday night are at the bottom of the American League East. But that's not to say that either the Blue Jays or Red Sox are having poor seasons. The AL East, after all, is one of two divisions in Major League Baseball in which every club is over .500.

Fresh off a sweep of the first-place Orioles, the Blue Jays are 27-24 and just two games behind the Orioles and Rays. The Red Sox, who had a three-game win streak snapped on Thursday, remain in last place, but at 26-25, they are just one game behind their opponent.

"They had a pretty good series against the Orioles, so if we can go in there and try to win all three from them, we'll be right there [in the standings]," said Boston outfielder Ryan Sweeney.

On Friday at Rogers Centre, Henderson Alvarez will get the ball for the Blue Jays, and Clay Buchholz is set to take the mound for the Red Sox.

Alvarez, a 22-year-old from Venezuela, lost his last two decisions, and the Blue Jays have been defeated in his last three starts. In his most recent outing, he surrendered back-to-back-to-back home runs by a trio of Rangers -- Nelson Cruz, Yorvit Torrealba and Mitch Moreland. A batter later, Alvarez was ejected for throwing a fastball too far inside to Ian Kinsler.

The game went 13 innings and ended on a walk-off home run by Rangers star Josh Hamilton.

Buchholz, on the other hand, is coming off his best start of the season, having given up only two runs on eight hits in seven innings against Tampa Bay. He left the game in line for the win, but Alfredo Aceves blew the save in the ninth in a 4-3 Red Sox loss.

"The big thing was, I stayed out of the middle of the plate, for the most part," Buchholz said. "When I missed I missed off the plate, either away or in. I felt like I was able to throw almost all my pitches for strikes at some point during the game. I felt this good my past three starts, I just hadn't had the results."

The two clubs played a three-game series from April 9-11, with the Blue Jays taking two of three.

Red Sox: Pedroia misses third straight game
• Dustin Pedroia has not played since Monday vs. the Tigers and the Red Sox continue to wait and see if the second baseman's torn adductor muscle in his right thumb will heal in time for him avoid a trip to the disabled list.

Pedroia injured the thumb more than three weeks ago before it finally became too much after five innings on Monday. The Red Sox are 2-1 while playing with essentially a 24-man roster over the past three games.

Still, Boston has not decided on whether Pedroia will go on the DL and will likely play with a reduced roster for at least Friday's game.

"No one new is coming with us," manager Bobby Valentine said.

"We have a plan. We don't want to put the plan in until we need to. I suspect before the weekend is over there will be another infielder, but maybe not."

Blue Jays: No timetable for Snider's return
• The Blue Jays have not seen any significant progress as Travis Snider rehabs his injured right wrist, and there is no timetable for his return to the playing field.

Snider, who sustained the injury while playing with Triple-A Las Vegas on April 26, is rehabbing at the Blue Jays' Minor League complex in Dunedin, Fla.

"He's continuing to receive treatment," manager John Farrell said. "There has really been no advancing of a hitting progression of any kind. The updates that I have [say] that he's continuing to receive treatment to let all the symptoms that he was experiencing when he tried to come back be resolved in its entirety."

• As a precaution, Kelly Johnson was kept out of Wednesday's lineup. The second baseman has been dealing with a sore hamstring for several weeks, but he played on Monday and Tuesday in wins against Baltimore.

Worth noting
• Farrell deemed shortstop Yunel Escobar, who had been dealing with a sore left groin, "pretty much good to go."

"If he's pressed on a first-to-third situation or if there's a movement that might stress the groin, we'll certainly monitor, but he came out [on Tuesday] night OK," Farrell said.

• In 12 career games (11 starts) against the Blue Jays, Buchholz is 7-3 with a 2.58 ERA.

• In two starts against the Red Sox, Alvarez is 0-0 and he has allowed just one run in 12 innings.

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