Baseball

Byrd pitches 6 shutout innings in return to majors

BOSTON — It was a scene right out of the movies. A former major league right-hander from St. Xavier High School 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.

The 38-year-old 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 3½ 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.

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.

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."

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