|Robinson Cano (center) is greeted by teammates after his single in the 10th inning brought in the winning run. (RAY STUBBLEBINE/REUTERS)|
Blue Jays stumble, let Yankees escape in 10th
NEW YORK -- Late comebacks, close wins. The New York Yankees are beginning to resemble the team everyone became familiar with for the past decade.
Robinson Cano hit a winning single in the 10th inning after Toronto closer Jeremy Accardo balked home the tying run in the ninth, and New York rallied past the Blue Jays, 3-2, last night.
The Yankees (47-44) won for the 10th time in 13 tries and moved within eight games of first-place Boston in the AL East, the closest they've been since after games of June 18.
"We just seem to be playing with something in mind right now," manager Joe Torre said. "I think we're at a point now, because good things have happened when we've come after people, that when we lose a game like this it's going to be a surprise."
Accardo's meltdown cost Roy Halladay his 11th win after he stymied the Yankees for seven innings in an entertaining pitchers' duel with Andy Pettitte. Aaron Hill's tiebreaking double off struggling reliever Kyle Farnsworth in the eighth gave Toronto a 2-1 lead.
Casey Janssen (2-2) hit Alex Rodriguez with a breaking ball to open the 10th, and Rodriguez aggressively dashed to second on a wild pitch that was knocked down by catcher Gregg Zaun. Hideki Matsui barely missed a game-ending homer, hitting a drive into the right-field upper deck just a few feet foul. He eventually struck out before Jorge Posada was intentionally walked.
After failing to come through in two key spots earlier in the game, Cano sliced the first pitch he saw into left field. New York improved to 8-14 in one-run contests.
"We needed this game desperately," Rodriguez said. "For some reason, we play with a lot of energy at home."
Luis Vizcaino (6-2) worked a scoreless inning for the win. Toronto stranded 12 runners for the second consecutive game.
"They've got the knack for making the right pitch at the right time," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.
Andy Phillips opened the New York ninth with a single and pinch runner Miguel Cairo stole second. After failing on a bunt attempt, Melky Cabrera grounded a single off first baseman Lyle Overbay's glove for his third hit of the night.
In a puzzling move, third base coach Larry Bowa waved Cairo home with none out even though strong-armed right fielder Alex Rios was charging the ball hard.
Rios threw a strike on the fly to Zaun, who tumbled over after withstanding a glancing blow to his legs by Cairo's head.
Cabrera went to second on the throw home and then easily stole third. Accardo walked Johnny Damon, then balked home the tying run.
"I've seen some crazy stuff. I can't remember seeing that," Halladay said. "It can be a tough place to play, and things like that happen from time to time."
Accardo recovered to keep it tied, retiring Derek Jeter and Bobby Abreu with a runner on second.
"I caught a cleat and was going to step off. Dumbest thing I've ever done," Accardo said of the balk. "It's a mental mistake. You can't get beat by those. If you're going to get beat, get beat by the hitter."