TORONTO — After a pregame players meeting provided a jolt of positive energy, J.A. Happ helped the Toronto Blue Jays to rebound.
Happ got his 18th win, Melvin Upton Jr. hit a two-run homer and the Blue Jays stopped a four-game losing streak by beating Boston 3-2 on Saturday.
Toronto closed within one game of the AL East-leading Red Sox and leads the wild-card race, one game ahead of third-place Baltimore.
“It was a big win, no doubt,” Happ said. “We had better energy than we’ve had in a while today. From first pitch to last it seemed like our dugout was really into this one.”
Toronto, whose players met behind closed doors for about an hour before the game, avoided matching its longest skid this season.
“It was just nice to get everybody together and talk about it and get back on the same page,” catcher Russell Martin said. “I think it was just to reassure, to make sure that everybody is in a good mindset and focusing on what they need to focus on. “
Happ declined to discuss specifics but said the meeting was “overwhelmingly positive.”
Upton and Devon Travis both made costly errors in Friday’s 13-3 loss but followed with good days at the plate Saturday. Travis had three hits for the Blue Jays and is 6 for 9 in the first two games of the series. Upton hit his 20th homer, a two-run drive in the second off Eduardo Rodruguez (2-7).
“Two guys who took a lot of heat last night came through for us,” manager John Gibbons said.
Upton has 25 stolen bases and reached the 20-20 mark for the fourth time.
Happ (18-4) allowed two runs and four hits in six-plus innings to win for the first time since Aug. 17 at the New York Yankees, ending a three-start winless streak. He didn’t allow a hit until Chris Young’s one-out single to center in the fifth.
“Many, many times we’ve shown the ability to put up a quality offensive game,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “He shut us down today.”
Jose Bautista made it 3-0 in the third with an RBI bloop single just beyond the reach of shortstop Xander Bogaerts.
Dustin Pedroia homered leading off the sixth and has a 28-game hitting streak against the Blue Jays.
Still, Pedroia said it was a struggle facing Happ.
“He’s tough,” Pedroia said. “His fastball gets on you, he locates real well, he’s got late movement on his offspeed stuff. It just wasn’t our day.”
Happ left after back-to-back singles by Hanley Ramirez and Aaron Hill put runners at the corners in the seventh. Joaquin Benoit gave up a sacrifice fly to Jackie Bradley Jr., then struck out pinch-hitter Travis Shaw.
Jason Grilli pitched the eighth, and Roberto Osuna finished for his 31st save in 34 chances, striking out Bradley with a man on for the final out.
Rodriguez allowed three runs — two earned — and four hits in six innings. He is winless in nine starts but has allowed more than three earned runs just once in that stretch.
WET AND DRY
A light rain was still falling as the dome opened before the game, forcing some fans to shelter under umbrellas. The skies soon cleared and it was dry the rest of the day.
WHAT A RELIEF
Boston relievers have not allowed an earned run over 14 2/3 innings in September.
Red Sox: OF Andrew Benintendi (left knee) is to try sliding in a simulated game Tuesday at Fenway Park, Farrell said. It is expected to be Benintendi’s final test before coming off the DL.
Blue Jays: Martin returned after leaving Wednesday’s game and sitting out Friday with a sore left knee. Martin leaped into the Red Sox dugout in search of a foul popup in the fifth, nearly colliding with Farrell. “I couldn’t believe he jumped, to be honest with you,” Farrell said.
RHP Clay Buchholz (6-10) starts Sunday’s series finale for Boston and RHP Aaron Sanchez (13-2) for Toronto. Buchholz is 2-0 with a 2.31 ERA in his past four starts. Sanchez allowed two home runs Tuesday in a 7-6 loss at the Yankees, matching the total in his previous 10 outings.