Red Sox become first team in majors to clinch a playoff spot; Chris Sale pitches an inning as ace eases back into form

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Red Sox became the first team in the major leagues to clinch a playoff berth and did not celebrate.

"Any time you make the playoffs and give yourself a chance to be that last team, it's a pretty special thing," Brock Holt said. "We're excited by that, but we've got more work to do."

Holt pinch hit in the seventh inning and hit a go-ahead, three-run homer in a 7-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night that guaranteed Boston no worse than a wild card berth.

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At a major league-best 99-46, the Red Sox lead the AL East by nine games with 2½ weeks left. Their postgame celebration was lining up for routine high-fives and heading back to the clubhouse.

"We're in great position to win the division and then to accomplish other things," first-year manager Alex Cora said. "As I told the group, I'm very proud of them."

Starter Chris Sale came off the disabled list and pitched one scoreless inning, striking out two and throwing 26 pitches. Sale has been slowed by inflammation in his left shoulder, and the Red Sox had said they would ease their ace back into action.

"We're taking care of the guy," Cora said.

Boston assured its third straight postseason team, matching the Red Sox teams of 2003-05 and 2007-09.

Ryan Brasier (2-0) pitched 1 1/3 hitless innings as Boston used seven relievers.

Toronto led 2-0 in the seventh, when Steve Pearce hit a tying triple and Holt followed with a two-out home run off Ryan Tepera (5-5).

Kevin Pillar had an RBI single for Toronto during a two-run sixth, when Devon Travis scored the game's first run on a double-steal and botched defensive play by the Red Sox.

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