MINNEAPOLIS -- Edwin Encarnacion smacked a game-tying two-run homer in the sixth, and Troy Tulowitzki hit a go-ahead RBI single with two outs in the 11th inning to lift the Blue Jays to a 3-2 win over the Twins on Thursday night at Target Field.
"It's being in the moment, in the situation," said Blue Jays bench coach DeMarlo Hale, who was filling in for suspended manager John Gibbons. "I thought we grinded very well. [We did] some of the little things, played some defense. It was a well-played game."
Right-handers Ervin Santana and Marco Estrada were impressive, as they both went eight innings, but neither factored into the decision. Santana gave up two runs on four hits and two walks, while Estrada allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits and a walk with nine strikeouts.
Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna tossed two scoreless innings in relief of Estrada, while right-hander Joe Biagini picked up his first career save with a scoreless 11th. The win snapped a five-game losing streak for Toronto and extended Minnesota's losing streak to four games.
"It was a better ballgame all the way around, but we didn't swing the bats very well," said Twins manager Paul Molitor, whose team had four hits. "We didn't have a lot of opportunities offensively."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Edwin goes yard … again: For five-plus innings on Thursday, Santana baffled the Toronto lineup, allowing just three singles and retiring 15 of 16 batters after the first inning. That changed in the span of five pitches in the sixth. Josh Donaldson fell behind Santana, 0-2, but battled back and got on with a walk. That brought to the plate Encarnacion, who smoked the first pitch he saw, a 91-mph fastball, into the second deck in left field to tie the score at 2. The home run, which traveled an estimated 421 feet according to Statcast™, was Encarnacion's ninth of the season and second in as many days.
Defense keeps Twins in it:Danny Santana made a spectacular grab in center field to rob Tulowitzki of a go-ahead hit with two outs in the ninth inning. With Saunders at second after a two-out double, Tulowitzki hit a 3-1 fastball from Kevin Jepsen into deep center, but Santana was able to track it down and make a leaping catch to prevent Toronto from going ahead. Eduardo Nunez saved a run in the 10th with a great play at shortstop to rob Jose Bautista of a go-ahead RBI single to end the inning.
"We made some plays," Molitor said. "Danny made a nice play and then Nunez made a nice play late in the game to get us off the field, which was good to see. But we didn't have enough offense to win the game." More >
Estrada outstanding: Lost in the shuffle of the Blue Jays' continued struggles at the plate was the sterling performance by Estrada. The right-hander allowed two runs, only one of them earned, over eight innings, giving up just three singles along the way. The Twins scored an unearned run off Estrada in the first, then took advantage of a leadoff single and a stolen base in the third when Mauer knocked in Danny Santana with a single to center. Estrada didn't allow a hit after that, with Kurt Suzuki's one-out walk in the fifth inning the only instance in which a runner reached base. He retired 15 of the final 16 men he faced, including the last 11, striking out nine and lowering his ERA to 2.61.
"I don't know what it was early on, I didn't feel great out there," Estrada said. "The more I threw the ball, the better I felt. I think, probably by the third inning, I felt much better out there and obviously threw the ball a lot better. I've just got to make sure I go out there and I'm ready to go by the first inning. Can't keep doing stuff like that. Next time, one or two runs, that might not be all that happens to me."
Santana goes eight strong: Ervin Santana went eight innings for the first time this season, turning in his best start of the year. The right-hander had a stretch of 13 consecutive batters retired until Russell Martin singled with two outs in the fifth. His lone mistake was the two-run homer by Encarnacion in the sixth.
"It was a big game for me," Santana said. "Especially when I was working down in the zone. It was good."
The Blue Jays won a challenge in the third, when Joe Mauer singled home Danny Santana with two outs and was ruled safe at second as he tried to advance on the throw home. After a review, it was determined that Mauer came off the bag at second. The call was overturned for the inning's final out, but the run still scored.
WHAT'S NEXT Blue Jays: Right-hander Aaron Sanchez will look to rebound on Friday when the Blue Jays and Twins play the second of a four-game series at Target Field. Sanchez allowed six runs on seven hits over 6 2/3 innings against Texas on Sunday but has allowed one run or fewer in five of his eight starts this season.
Twins: Minnesota will send righty Tyler Duffey to the mound. Duffey has been outstanding in four starts in 2016 but has just one victory to show for it; that came last time out, when he shut out Cleveland over seven innings in a 5-1 win on Sunday. Duffey has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 13 of his 14 career starts. The exception came last season in his Major League debut, when he gave up six runs on five hits over two innings against Toronto at Rogers Centre.