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Blue Jays Ride Villanueva To 7-3 Win Over Boston

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BOSTON, MA - JULY 21:  Carlos Villanueva #33 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches against the Boston Red Sox during the game on July 21, 2012 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

BOSTON, MA – JULY 21: Carlos Villanueva #33 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches against the Boston Red Sox during the game on July 21, 2012 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

BOSTON (AP)  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 the Boston Red Sox 7-3 on Saturday night.

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.

Aaron 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.

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 offense Boston got.

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. Yunel Escobar then reached on an error by third baseman Will Middlebrooks and, 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’ fielder’s choice.

The Red Sox had a ceremony before the game for Varitek, who helped the ballclub win two World Series in his 15-year career, including the 2004 title that snapped an 86-year drought. Varitek also caught four no-hitters, a major-league record.

NOTES: The Red Sox are worried about the first-inning troubles of RHP Josh Beckett, who has a 10.69 ERA in the first inning of his 16 starts. Manager Bobby Valentine says Beckett warms up earlier than anyone else, then takes a break before the first pitch.  “This is a dog that is hard to teach a new trick to,” Valentine said…. Red Sox SS Mike Aviles got the night off with turf toe. He was injured running the bases on Friday night, Valentine said. … Red Sox OF Jacoby Ellsbury also got the night off, his first since returning from the DL. … J.A. Happ, who was acquired in a trade from Houston on Friday, made his Blue Jays debut. He retired the only two batters he faced. … Boston committed two errors for two unearned runs. Toronto had one error, which did not result in a run.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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