BOSTON — 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.”
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.”
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 AL 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.”