TORONTO (AP) - Aaron Sanchez gave the Toronto Blue Jays the start they needed.
Sanchez won for the first time in three starts, Edwin Encarnacion and Ryan Goins homered and the Blue Jays beat the Seattle Mariners 8-2 on Sunday to avoid a three-game sweep.
Sanchez (4-4) allowed two runs and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings to help Toronto win for the third time in 12 games.
“He just gets better and better,” manager John Gibbons said. “You see it in every start.”
A rookie who pitched 24 games out of the bullpen last season, Sanchez said his comfort level is “tremendously different” now than it was at the beginning of the year.
“I’m still trying to figure some things out but it’s been flowing,” Sanchez said. “I’m just trying to run with it.”
Sanchez won for the fourth time in his past six decisions and pitched into the seventh inning for the second straight start.
“He’s settling in,” Gibbons said. “He’s got the appearance of starting to figure this out.”
Seattle’s Dustin Ackley, who ended Sanchez’s outing with a two-out single in the seventh, said he was impressed with the Blue Jays right-hander.
“His fastball is pretty electric,” Ackley said. “If he can control that, he’s going to be solid.”
Seattle’s Kyle Seager homered for the second straight game, a solo shot in the second, but the Mariners were unable to complete what would have been their first sweep in Toronto since May 2001.
Mariners right-hander Taijuan Walker held the Blue Jays without a hit through the first four innings, but Toronto came alive with four runs in the fifth.
Kevin Pillar led off the fifth with a bloop single and Goins followed with his first homer of the season. Two outs later, Russell Martin walked and Encarnacion drilled a second-deck drive to left, his third home run in four games.
“I felt like my command was pretty good,” Walker said. “The two pitches I missed, they made it hurt.”
Encarnacion has hit eight home runs in May. Toronto has six games remaining this month.
Walker (1-5) allowed four runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings.
“I thought he competed well against the team that’s scored the most runs in the American League, in fact all of baseball,” manager Lloyd McClendon said.
Walker fell to 0-4 in six road starts, but lowered his road ERA from 10.71 to 9.79.
Welington Castillo cut it to 4-2 with a sacrifice fly in the seventh, but Toronto answered with four in the bottom half against relievers Danny Farquhar and Joe Beimel.
The Blue Jays challenged two calls at first base and won both times, preventing a run with their first and gaining a run with the second. Toronto successfully challenged first base umpire Will Little’s call that Justin Smoak had come off the bag on Nelson Cruz’s grounder in the first. In the seventh, they overturned Little’s ruling that Steve Tolleson was out on the back end of a 5-4-3 double play.
HOME RUN STREAK
Blue Jays pitchers have allowed at least one home run in 10 straight games, their longest streak since May, 2007.
Toronto recorded its 16th and 17th four-run innings of the season. They scored four or more in an inning 17 times this season, the most in the majors.
Mariners: OF Austin Jackson (right ankle) went 3 for 5 with a double and an RBI in Saturday’s rehab game with Triple-A Tacoma and is close to being activated, McClendon said. … Robinson Cano started at DH to get a break from the artificial turf. Seattle is in the midst of six straight games on turf, the only six they’ll play all season.
Blue Jays: Jose Bautista was out of the lineup after getting a cortisone shot in his sore right shoulder. Bautista has been limited to DH duty since April 21 after straining his shoulder making a throw to first base. … SS Jose Reyes (left ribs) was in the Blue Jays clubhouse following the game after playing three rehab games for Triple-A Buffalo. Reyes is expected to come off the DL Monday.
Mariners: LHP Roenis Elias (1-1, 2.76) seeks to win his second straight start as Seattle begins a three-game series at Tampa Bay. Elias had gone winless in four outings before beating Baltimore on May 20. RHP Jake Odorizzi (3-4, 2.43) starts for the Rays.
Blue Jays: RHP Drew Hutchison (3-1, 6.06) looks to rebound from his first loss of the season as Toronto begins a three-game series against the White Sox. RHP Hector Noesi (0-3, 5.60) starts for Chicago.
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