Blue Jays blast pair of homers to top Mariners

Blue Jays blast pair of homers to top Mariners

TORONTO -- Edwin Encarnacion and Ryan Goins homered while Aaron Sanchez tossed 6 2/3 strong innings in the Blue Jays' 8-2 victory over the Mariners on Sunday afternoon at Rogers Centre.

Chris Colabello reached base three times, and Justin Smoak added an RBI single as Toronto avoided falling eight games below .500 for the first time since the end of the 2013 season. The combined efforts also allowed the Blue Jays to avoid getting swept for the second time in their last three series.

Sanchez surrendered a second-inning homer to Kyle Seager but overpowered the Mariners' lineup for the remainder of his outing. The rookie right-hander allowed two runs on seven hits and two walks with four strikeouts. It was the third time in his past four outings that Sanchez went at least six innings and surrendered three runs or fewer.

"When you get into a situation like that, down 1-0, I think my mentality the rest of the game was just to keep it close," said Sanchez, who has limited the opposition to three earned runs or fewer in all but one of his nine starts this year. "I know what these guys are capable of doing. It came a little later today, but we scored some runs and just a big win for us, really."

Toronto powered up in the fifth inning off right-hander Taijuan Walker. The Blue Jays entered that frame without a hit, but a pair of two-run homers from Goins and Encarnacion quickly turned things in their favor. Walker was charged with all four runs on six hits and four walks over 5 2/3 innings.

Encarnacion's long home run

"I was trying to get ahead and thought I did a pretty good job," said Walker, who is 1-5 with 7.33 ERA. "I felt like my command was pretty good. I just missed with two pitches, and they made it hurt."

Goins, Goins, gone: Goins is known for his work with the glove, but it was the surprise contribution of his bat that helped turn things around for the Blue Jays during the fifth inning. The defensive specialist sent a 1-0 pitch from Walker over the wall in right field for a two-run shot. Goins' first homer of the year -- and the fourth of his career -- gave Toronto a 2-1 lead that it did not relinquish.

Goins' two-run homer

Flyin' solo again: Seager slugged his second home run in the past two games with a rocket to right field leading off the second that was measured at 424 feet by Statcast™. The Mariners' third baseman went 2-for-4, scored both his team's runs and extended a 10-game hitting streak during which he's batted .378 with three homers and four RBIs. But Seattle again could not get much traction from the long ball, as 41 of the team's 54 homers have been solo shots.

Seager's solo shot

Sanchez leaves to standing 'O': Sanchez walked off the field in the top of the seventh inning to a standing ovation from the 37,929 fans in attendance at Rogers Centre. He avoided trouble by inducing a pair of ground-ball double plays in the first and third innings from Robinson Cano and later went on to face two batters over the minimum during a stretch that began in the second and lasted until the seventh.
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Sanchez's strong start

Cano's woes continue: Mariners skipper Lloyd McClendon talked pregame about how six-time All-Star second baseman Cano seemed close to breaking out of his extended struggles at the plate, but Cano grounded into double plays with runners on first and second in his first two at-bats, as Seattle wasted several early opportunities to get to Sanchez. Cano, at designated hitter to rest his legs from the Toronto turf, went 0-for-4 and finished the series 0-for-11. More >

"I thought [Walker] was throwing a pretty good ballgame and left a pitch down and in to a left-hander [Goins], and then a pretty good hitter [Encarnacion] hit a 3-2 fastball out of the ballpark. [Walker] competed well against a team that scores the most runs in all of baseball. I thought he did a nice job. He just made a couple mistakes that cost him a ballgame." -- McClendon on the 22-year-old Walker

• Walker's trend of trouble on the road continued as he fell to 1-4 with a 9.79 ERA in six away games this season. The 22-year-old is 0-1 with a 3.31 ERA in three starts at Safeco FIeld.

The Blue Jays won a crucial challenge in the top of the first inning that saved the club a run. With two outs and a runner on third, Nelson Cruz hit a slow grounder up the middle. Goins ranged far to his left and made an off-balance throw that was slightly wide of first as Brad Miller scored.

Smoak stretched to make the catch, but first-base umpire Will Little ruled that his foot came off the bag. Toronto manager John Gibbons challenged the call, and after two minutes and 15 seconds, it was overturned. Cruz was called out and the inning came to an end without a run crossing the plate.

Cruz thrown out after challenge

Toronto won another challenge in the bottom of the seventh inning when a call was overturned at first base. Steve Tolleson was ruled safe after originally being called out, and that led to another run for the Blue Jays.

Tolleson's RBI grounder

Mariners: Roenis Elias (1-1, 2.76 ERA) will be eyeing his second straight win as Seattle opens a three-game series at Tampa Bay on Monday at 4:10 p.m. PT. Elias has been outstanding in five starts in place of Hisashi Iwakuma, and he hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in 15 straight outings dating back to last July.

Blue Jays: Right-hander Drew Hutchison (3-1, 6.06 ERA) will take the mound at 7:07 p.m. ET when the Blue Jays open a three-game series against the White Sox on Monday at Rogers Centre. Hutchison appears to have turned things around lately after a rough start to the season. He has allowed seven runs over his previous three outings and has a 3.57 ERA over that same span. Jose Reyes is expected to be activated off the disabled list before the game. More >

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Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.