The Toronto Blue Jays weren't getting much done against Red Sox starter Aaron Cook. Then his sinker stopped sinking.
Edwin Encarnacion tied the game with a two-run homer in the sixth, then J.P. Arencibia gave Toronto the lead with a seventh-inning solo shot and the Blue Jays beat Boston 7-3 on Saturday night.
"It was a combination of us coming to life and his sinker staying up a little," said Toronto manager John Farrell, whose team had just two hits heading into the sixth. "Cook was that good in the first five innings."
Former Sox captain honoured
The Boston Red Sox celebrated the career of longtime catcher Jason Varitek in a pre-game ceremony at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox honoured their former captain before Saturday night's game against the Toronto Blue Jays. The team brought out Varitek's high school friends, former coaches and ex-teammates to wish him well.
There were also videos from ex-Red Sox Nomar Garciaparra, Bronson Arroyo and Derek Lowe, who was traded to Boston with Varitek in 1997 for closer Heathcliff Slocumb.
The team gave Varitek the home plate from his last game. He also got a pickup truck.
Varitek played his entire 15-year career with the Red Sox, batting .256 with 193 homers and 757 RBIs. He caught 1,488 games in a Boston uniform — the most in franchise history.
— The Associated Press
Carlos Villanueva (5-0) allowed three runs on four hits over 6 1/3 innings to win his third consecutive start. He walked two and struck out five.
"It was kind of a test — keeping the game within reach," Villanueva said. "Our guys came through, J.P. and Eddie, in a big way."
'Especially in our division, teams keep coming after you and coming after you. We need to try separate ourselves.'— Red Sox 2nd baseman Dustin Pedroia
Cook (2-3) allowed five runs — three earned — on four hits and a walk while striking out one. He had allowed five earned runs in his previous four starts to drop his ERA from 20.25 to 3.34.
The victory lifted last-place Toronto to .500 and within one-half game of Boston in the American League East.
"Especially in our division, teams keep coming after you and coming after you," Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. "We need to try separate ourselves. There's nothing wrong with getting a five, six-run lead. … We need to make sure we have better at-bats and try to pull away."
On the night dedicated to longtime catcher Jason Varitek, replacement Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a three-run homer in the second inning to break a scoreless tie. It was his 18th homer of the year, extending his career high.
But that was all the offence Boston got.
"After the three-run homer, he stabilized the game," Farrell said. "We weren't getting much done on Cook."
Toronto made it 3-1 in the third when Kelly Johnson led off with a double and eventually scored on Brett Lawrie's sacrifice fly. Cook still had a two-hitter heading into the sixth before Colby Rasmus drew a two-out walk and Encarnacion followed with his 26th homer of the season.
Arencibia gave Toronto the lead on the first pitch of the seventh inning.
"If I had two pitches to take back the whole game, those would be the only two," Cook said. "I felt like, other than that, I was in a pretty good rhythm, putting the ball really where I wanted to. Just those two bad pitches, they made me pay for them tonight."
Yunel Escobar then reached on an error by third baseman Will Middlebrooks, chasing Cook from the game. After Rajai Davis walked, they pulled off a double-steal before scoring on Lawrie's single to left.
Davis also doubled to lead off the ninth and scored on Rasmus's fielder's choice.