Toronto pitcher Aaron Sanchez provided one of his best starts of the season Tuesday night.
Los Angeles starter Hector Santiago was just a little bit better and the Angels took advantage.
David Freese hit a sacrifice fly to bring Erick Aybar home with the go-ahead run in the eighth inning as Los Angeles shaded the Blue Jays 3-2 at Rogers Centre.
Sanchez (3-4) tossed a career-high 7 1/3 innings and allowed three earned runs, six hits and three walks. He gave up a solo homer to Kole Calhoun and put the leadoff man on base in the seventh and eighth innings with both runners coming around to score.
There was still plenty to like about the young right-hander’s performance as he continues his development in his first season as a starter.
“He went deep into the game and he was very efficient,” said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. “That just shows what he can do when he’s throwing strikes. He’s a ground ball machine. You look at his starts and he just keeps getting better, better, better and better.
“When the season is all said and done, he’s going to be on his way.”
Sanchez had five strikeouts and threw 60 of his 106 pitches for strikes. He has limited the opposition to three earned runs or less in seven of his eight starts.
“Take what’s good out of this game, move on and flush this one,” he said.
Santiago (3-2), meanwhile, allowed one earned run — a Josh Donaldson leadoff homer in the opening frame — over seven innings. He held the Blue Jays to four hits while walking three batters and striking out five.
“That’s a lineup that has been chewing up left-handed pitching,” said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. “They’ll let you know if you’re missing your spots. (Santiago) pitched a good game.”
Joe Smith retired the side in the eighth and Huston Street worked the ninth for his 13th save. Toronto (18-23) has dropped six of its last seven games and is in last place in the American League East division standings.
Calhoun put Los Angeles (20-19) on the board in the fourth inning with his fourth homer of the year. He drew a leadoff walk in the seventh inning and tied the game at two when he came around on Chris Iannetta’s RBI single.
Aybar led off the eighth with a single and moved to second on a groundout. Albert Pujols walked and reliever Roberto Osuna got Calhoun to hit a squibber to Donaldson.
The Toronto third baseman scooped it but was unable to tag the speedy Aybar.
“I knew it was going to be a tough play,” Donaldson said. “Obviously I thought there was going to be a play with Aybar there. I was wrong and it ended up costing us.”
Freese followed with a sacrifice fly to deep centre field. It was the Angels’ eighth come-from-behind win of the season and sixth victory in eight games.
Notes: It was Donaldson’s second career leadoff homer and ninth blast of the season. … Announced attendance was 15,062. … The game took two hours 32 minutes to play. … Before the game, pitcher Todd Redmond was designated for assignment. The Blue Jays had recalled fellow right-hander Scott Copeland the night before. … Toronto shortstop Jose Reyes (rib) is expected to start a rehab assignment with triple-A Buffalo on Thursday in Toledo. … Right-hander Drew Hutchison (3-0, 6.17 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Blue Jays on Wednesday night in the third game of the four-game set. The Angels will counter with right-hander Jered Weaver (2-4, 4.44). … Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista walked in the first inning to extend his on-base streak to 17 games. … Toronto entered play with a major-league leading .328 batting average against left-handers this season. … The Angels are in the middle of a 10-game East Coast road trip. Next up is a three-game series against Boston starting Friday. … The Blue Jays will entertain Seattle and the Chicago White Sox in three-game series later in the homestand.
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Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press