BOSTON -- There was never any doubt about Jackie Bradley Jr.'s defensive ability. A natural center fielder, you could play him anywhere in the outfield and get Gold Glove-type defense.
But hitting? His bat was sending him back and forth to the minors, and he had become close to a forgotten man in the Boston Red Sox organization.
All that has changed, even though Bradley said not all that much is different.
"It's the same old baseball," he said after stroking four hits, including a two-run homer, to lead the Boston Red Sox to an 11-4 pounding of the first-place Toronto Blue Jays on Monday. "I'm just getting some good pitches to swing at and making solid contact. I'm not trying to force anything. I'm trying to swing at strikes.
"I'm not trying to think about it and am just trying to ride the wave."
Bradley, hitting .121 through Aug. 8, has been remarkable since -- with a .446 average, .489 on-base percentage and .952 slugging percentage.
Now hitting .312, he has had two games with at least four hits and four RBIs in 23 days, the shortest span a Red Sox player has pulled that off since Manny Ramirez in 2002. He's the first No. 9 hitter to do it twice in a season since Tom Brookens in 1988.
He has seven homers in his last 25 games -- after hitting five in his first 188. Twenty-one of his last 30 hits have been for extra bases.
Bradley's latest onslaught backed a fourth straight strong start from the once-beleaguered Red Sox rotation. Right-hander Rick Porcello, in his third straight positive start since coming off the disabled list, allowed three earned runs in 7 1/3 innings.
The loss cut the Blue Jays' lead over the victorious New York Yankees (77-59) in the AL East to a half-game.
Bradley, who has an eight-game hitting streak, singled and scored in the third inning, singled home a run in the fourth, homered in the sixth and doubled home a run in the seventh.
First baseman Travis Shaw added a two-run homer in the eighth inning for the Red Sox.
The Red Sox, who had 17 hits, are seven games under .500 -- the closest they have been to breaking even since July 18.
The rotation, a main reason the Red Sox fell into last place, has allowed eight earned runs during the winning streak. Porcello (7-12) has yielded four earned runs and struck out 22 in three starts since coming off the DL.
With the bats, another sketchy area for much of the season, the Red Sox have 33 runs on 49 hits during the winning streak. Going back five games, the Red Sox have 41 runs on 62 hits.
The Red Sox, who also turned four double plays Monday, made short work of left-hander Mark Buehrle (14-7), knocking him out in a season-low 3 1/3 innings (nine hits, five runs).
"It was a tough day for all our pitching really. We got hit around pretty good," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "We just couldn't get anybody out really. Through that lineup they just kept coming at us. We had a tough day all the way around."
Buehrle has gone four innings or less in two of his last four starts. He has allowed 15 earned runs in 19 1/3 innings over that span.
"Yeah, I have some concerns," Gibbons said. "We'll see. He's one of our five. Just when many of us think something's up, he always responds. He always has, and hopefully he can do that again."
Boston center fielder Mookie Betts extended his hitting streak to 11 games with three singles, scoring twice and driving in a run. Designated hitter David Ortiz continued his torrid hitting with doubles his first two times up.
Third baseman Josh Donaldson, with the large Blue Jays contingent in the crowd chanting "MVP," hit his 37th homer of the season -- the 100th of his career -- and added two singles for Toronto.
NOTES: Toronto RHP Marcus Stroman made his second and quite possibly last rehab start on Monday at Pawtucket. Stroman, who suffered a torn left ACL in spring training and was supposed to miss the season, would be in line to pitch in a four-game series against the Yankees in New York over the weekend. He said he is ready to go. ... Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia, on the disabled list since July 25 (for the second time) with a hamstring strain, is expected to return Tuesday night after undergoing testing earlier in the day. ... 3B Pablo Sandoval returned to the Boston lineup after missing three games with mid-back tightness and went 1-for-3. ... Blue Jays RHP R.A. Dickey, 6-0 with two no-decisions in his last eight games, is 0-3 with one no-decision this season against the Red Sox as faces rookie LHP Henry Owens in Tuesday night's middle game of the three-game series.