Toronto rallies for win over Yanks

August 30, 2008 5:59:14 PM PDT
A landslide of little things have plagued the Yankees all season, and the Toronto Blue Jays took advantage of a couple more on Saturday. Vernon Wells hit a two-run homer, Gregg Zaun drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning, and a key error by second baseman Robinson Cano helped the Blue Jays rally from four runs down for a 7-6 victory.

Jose Bautista and Joe Inglett each drove in a pair of runs for the Blue Jays, who might well have dashed the Yankees' fading postseason hopes. They began the day six games back of the Boston Red Sox in the AL wild-card race with only 28 to play.

"They were pretty lifeless until we made a mistake," said Johnny Damon, "and they took full advantage of it."

The Yankees still had a chance in the ninth, putting runners on first and second with no outs against closer B.J. Ryan. Alex Rodriguez hit a sharp grounder to Bautista at third, and he scrambled over to the base for the forceout, then fired across the infield to get Rodriguez by half a step.

"I was just trying to put my glove on it and do anything to prevent it from getting by me," Bautista said. "I didn't ever feel like we had a chance to turn it. I gave it a shot at first and we got him."

Cody Ransom followed with a harmless flyball and Ryan had his 25th save.

Rodriguez was booed before game and quite often during, his inability to come through in the clutch grating on Yankees fans who are desperate to see their team avoid missing the playoffs for the first time since 1993. The struggling slugger is batting just .241 with three RBIs in the eighth inning or beyond, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

"He made an unbelievable play. I don't know how he made that play, let alone get two outs on it," Rodriguez said. "Everything was good except the result."

Cano and Ivan Rodriguez hit back-to-back homers in the fourth for the Yankees, but it was Cano's error on what should have been an easy double play in the seventh that changed the complexion of the game.

New York led 6-2 when Adam Lind started the inning with a single and Lyle Overbay sent a dribbler up the middle. Cano fielded it cleanly and made a short-armed toss to Derek Jeter covering second base, but the ball ended up in the dirt and squirted away.

The error sent Lind coasting into third and, instead of the bases clear and two outs, the Blue Jays had runners on the corners.

Bautista - hitless in 28 at-bats - followed with an RBI single.

"I think he might have been just a little too far away to do a shovel pass," Jeter said. "It was a little low, but that's a play he's made many times before."

Zaun walked to load the bases, and Inglett hit a one-out, two-run single off Brian Bruney to cut it to 6-5.

Toronto pushed across two more runs in the eighth. Edwar Ramirez replaced Damaso Marte (4-3) with one out and runners on second and third, and Bautista tied it at 6 with an RBI single. Zaun then gave the Blue Jays the lead with a run-scoring fielder's choice.

Brandon League (1-2) picked up the victory with one inning of relief.

"We need to win some games and maybe spoil some people," Overbay said. "It's nice to do some good things and get a win out of it."

Hideki Matsui's two-run double in the fifth inning gave New York a 6-2 lead.

Darrell Rasner allowed five runs, four earned, in six-plus innings for the Yankees and hasn't won since July 12, but he didn't get much help from a relief corps working on short rest.

Bruney, Marte and Ramirez - the three culprits in the late-inning meltdown - all pitched in the Yankees' 2-1 victory Friday night.

"You don't want to hurt them, but if we need them, we need them," said manager Joe Girardi, who is eagerly awaiting the return of Joba Chamberlain to the bullpen.

"It's real disappointing, but that was a game we needed to win," Girardi added. "That's an unfortunate loss for us, because that's a game we have to win."

John Parrish allowed four runs and seven hits in four innings for Toronto.

Notes: Chamberlain (shoulder tendinitis) threw 35 pitches in a simulated game and said he felt fine afterward. ... The Blue Jays sent veteran DH Matt Stairs to Philadelphia for a player to be named in a deal that concluded early Saturday. ... New York's Bobby Abreu has reached safely in 23 straight games at Yankee Stadium.