TORONTO — Josh Johnson’s best start of the season wasn’t enough to get a win for the Blue Jays.
Dayan Viciedo doubled home the go-ahead run in the ninth inning and the Chicago White Sox rallied to beat Toronto 4-3 on Tuesday.
Johnson was roughed up on a cold, wet day in Detroit last Thursday, allowing six runs and seven hits in 1 1-3 innings — the shortest start of his career.
White Sox slugger Adam Dunn figured that outing was an anomaly.
“I was telling the guys before the game ‘Don’t put too much stock in what you saw in the Detroit game,'” Dunn said. “You won’t ever see that.
“Tonight was the guy that I remember,” Dunn continued. “In my opinion, he’s one of the best in the game.”
Indeed, the climate-controlled environment of Rogers Centre seemed to suit Johnson much better.
He gave up two runs and four hits in a season-high seven innings. He walked two and struck out eight, also a season high.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said Johnson was “terrific,” and Chicago’s Paul Konerko agreed.
“He was throwing 93 to 95 miles per hour with two different breaking balls that were really good,” Konerko said. “Exceptional. His stuff was well above average tonight.”
Johnson said he benefited from being aggressive with his pitches.
“I was just more aggressive overall,” he said. “Fastball, curveball, slider, everything was going, not just to the catcher but through the catcher, through the zone. That was the main focus for this start and it worked out.”
What didn’t work out so well for Toronto was the ninth inning. Reliever Steve Delabar walked leadoff man Dunn, who was replaced by pinch runner Dewayne Wise. Konerko followed with a walk and Conor Gillaspie struck out before Viciedo drove in Wise with a double over the head of center fielder Emilio Bonifacio.
Alexei Ramirez was intentionally walked and Darren Oliver came on to face Hector Gimenez, who drove in Konerko with a sacrifice fly to right. Konerko slid home safely when the throw from Davis missed wide.
“I’m never really confident when it comes to me trying to outrun a ball,” Konerko said. “I ran as fast as I could. Obviously the throw was off line a little bit. Even then it was still close.”
Matt Lindstrom (1-0) got one out for the win and Addison Reed finished for his fifth save in as many opportunities.
Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind hit consecutive singles off Reed to begin the ninth, just the second and third hits he’s allowed this season. Brett Lawrie followed with a sacrifice fly, but Reed got Rajai Davis and Maicer Izturis to fly out.
Colby Rasmus and J.P. Arencibia hit solo home runs for the Blue Jays, who couldn’t hold on after taking a 2-1 lead in the sixth.
Delabar (1-1) allowed two runs and one hit in 1 1-3 innings.
The White Sox opened the scoring in the second, loading the bases with two singles and a walk before Konerko scored from third on a wild pitch by Johnson.
Rasmus tied it in the bottom half with a two-out blast to center, his fourth.
Arencibia put the Blue Jays in front with a two-out homer in the sixth, his fifth of the season and second in two days.
Johnson had retired 10 straight White Sox batters but his streak ended quickly in the seventh as he fell behind 3-0 on Konerko before allowing a game-tying homer to left. For Konerko, the drive was his third.
“His stuff was really good tonight,” Konerko said of Johnson. “I got lucky to get a couple of fastballs that didn’t have a lot of movement.”
Lawrie made his first start of the season after being activated off the 15-day disabled list Monday. Lawrie had been sidelined since early March with a strained left ribcage muscle suffered at the World Baseball Classic.
Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista was held out of the starting lineup for the second straight game suffering from a sore back and flu-like symptoms.
“He wasn’t ready to pinch hit,” Gibbons said. “Hopefully he’ll be ready (Wednesday).”
Chicago’s Dylan Axelrod allowed two runs and seven hits in six innings, walked one and struck out four.