TORONTO -- Manager John Gibbons said he had a "here we go again" feeling after back-to-back bases loaded walks erased a Blue Jays lead.
Then, Toronto's dormant offense finally woke up.
J.P. Arencibia hit a two-run homer, Melky Cabrera had three hits and the Blue Jays rallied for an 8-4 victory over the New York Yankees on Sunday after starter Josh Johnson walked in the tying and go-ahead runs.
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"A good, big win for us," Gibbons said. "Maybe today is something that'll get us going."
Arencibia hit his seventh homer, tying him with Baltimore's Chris Davis for the AL lead, as the Blue Jays avoided their first three-game sweep against New York since the opening series of the 2003 season.
"We know what this team is capable of," Arencibia said. "We just have to continue to put at bats together and when you have an opportunity, try to rally behind it."
Toronto scored more than four runs for the first time since April 12 at Kansas City. The Blue Jays have scored more than three runs just seven times in their first 18 games.
"They have guys up and down that lineup that can hurt you," said New York outfielder Vernon Wells, who spent 12 years with Toronto. "They don't have to piece together single after single, they have guys who can leave the ballpark in a hurry."
Brett Cecil (1-0) worked 1 1/3 innings for the win as the Blue Jays capped a seven-game homestand on a winning note.
Chris Stewart hit a solo homer for the Yankees, who had won nine of their previous 11.
Toronto opened the scoring in the first. Munenori Kawasaki reached on an infield single, went to third on Cabrera's base hit and scored on a throwing error by Eduardo Nunez as the Yankees failed to turn a double play.
Colby Rasmus hit a leadoff double in the second and later scored on Kawasaki's sacrifice fly, but the Yankees cut the gap in half on Stewart's leadoff homer in the third, his first.
A superb defensive play by Wells kept Toronto from adding to its lead in the fourth. Jose Bautista singled to open the inning and Edwin Encarnacion followed with a drive to deep left. But the former Blue Jays outfielder made a leaping catch at the top of the wall and Bautista, who had already made the turn at second, was doubled off first on a relay throw from Robinson Cano.
New York took the lead with two runs in the fifth, capitalizing on some wildness by Johnson. Singles by Stewart, Cano and Wells loaded the bases before Johnson issued consecutive two-out walks to Lyle Overbay and Nunez.
"It seems like it happens a couple of times a year where all of a sudden you can't find the zone for whatever reason," Johnson said.
The Yankees added one more in the sixth. Jayson Nix hit a leadoff single, went to second on a wild pitch and advanced on Stewart's sacrifice. Cecil replaced Johnson before Nix scored on Brett Gardner's sacrifice fly.
Johnson allowed four runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings to remain winless in four starts. He walked three and struck out four.
Toronto chased Nova and reclaimed the lead with a four-run sixth against a Yankees bullpen that has a 5.09 ERA. In contrast, New York's starters have a 3.44 ERA.
Nova allowed four runs and seven hits in five-plus innings. He walked a season-high four, struck out five and saw his ERA rise from 5.59 to 6.14.
"I still lack command, I'm not throwing strikes and that kind of makes me mad," Nova said. "I know I can do better than this and I'm not happy."
Adam Lind walked and Arencibia doubled, bringing Boone Logan (0-1) out of the bullpen. Rasmus scored Lind with a broken bat single to center and David Phelps replaced Logan, but gave up a two-run double to Brett Lawrie, whose liner down the third base line stayed fair by inches. Two outs later, Cabrera capped the rally with an RBI single to right.
Lind drew a one-out walk off Phelps in the seventh and Arencibia followed with a drive to center, his second homer of the series.
- Twelve of Arencibia's 18 hits this season have been for extra bases.
- Lind matched a team record with four walks. It's the 16th time in Blue Jays history a player has walked four times in a game.
- Bautista returned to right field after two starts at DH. He missed four games last week with a sore back, and had not been expected to play the outfield again until Monday's game at Baltimore.
- Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller attended the game.