After holding onto the AL East lead for more than 3½ months, the Yankees appeared set to fall out of first place Sunday. Then they rallied from a four-run deficit and headed home still tied with Baltimore.
‘‘Tonight was a season-defining game for us,’’ Nick Swisher said after a 9-6 win in Toronto. ‘‘We could have gone down big like that and just packed it in, but that’s not this team’s M.O. That’s not how we approach it.’’
Eduardo Nunez drove in the go-ahead run with an eighth-inning sacrifice fly. Eric Chavez homered for the Yankees (92-67), who clinched a playoff spot when the Angels lost, and headed home for a season-closing series against the Red Sox.
New York has overcome four-run deficits to win twice in a nine-game span for the second time this season, according to STATS LLC.
With the division title and the best record still up for grabs, the Yankees aren’t relishing the prospect of playing the last-place Red Sox.
‘‘They would like nothing better than to spoil our season,’’ Russell Martin said. ‘‘Us knowing that, I don’t think anybody is going to take them lightly.’’
Toronto took a 5-1 lead in the fifth against Phil Hughes, but the Yankees closed in the sixth on a run-scoring wild pitch by Henderson Alvarez and tied it an inning later on Ichiro Suzuki’s sacrifice fly, Robinson Cano’s RBI double, and Aaron Loup’s run-scoring wild pitch.
Angels, 5-4; Rangers, 8-7 — Mike Napoli homered twice and drove in six runs as host Texas secured a playoff spot with a victory in the nightcap of a doubleheader split. Torii Hunter hit a two-run double with two outs in the ninth to boost Los Angeles in the first game.
Rays 6, White Sox 2 — David Price (20-4) became Tampa Bay’s first 20-game winner, B.J. Upton homered twice, and the visiting Rays stayed afloat in the wild-card race while Chicago continued to fade.
Tigers 2, Twins 1 — Prince Fielder hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning, and Miguel Cabrera, trying to become the first player since 1967 to win the triple crown, went 0 for 3, as visiting Detroit extended its AL Central lead.
Athletics 5, Mariners 2 — Yoenis Cespedes hit a go-ahead homer in the eighth to move host Oakland within two games of AL West-leading Texas and three games ahead of the Angels in the race for the second AL wild-card spot.
Braves 6, Mets 2 — Visiting Atlanta won for a major league-record 23d straight time in games started by one pitcher, Kris Medlen (10-1).
Cardinals 10, Nationals 4 — Carlos Beltran homered from both sides of the plate for the ninth time in his career and drove in five runs, and host St. Louis closed in on the NL’s second wild-card berth, reducing its magic number for clinching to 2.
Dodgers 7, Rockies 1 — Josh Beckett earned his first victory in five starts and host Los Angeles won its the fifth straight to stay in contention for a wild-card spot.
Giants 7, Padres 5 — Xavier Nady homered off Huston Street to tie it in the ninth and Hunter Spence hit a go-ahead, two-run shot for visiting San Francisco.
Reds 4, Pirates 3 — Pinch hitter Xavier Paul led off the ninth with a home run off Joel Hanrahan (5-2) and Zack Cozart had a go-ahead double for visiting Cincinnati, which clinched home-field advantage in the NL division series.
Astros 7, Brewers 0 — Jordan Lyles pitched his first major league shutout and hit his first homer as visiting Houston eliminated Milwaukee from wild-card contention.
Phillies 4, Marlins 1 — Cole Hamels (17-6) struck out eight and allowed one run over seven innings to lift visiting Philadelphia.
Indians 15, Royals 3 — Asdrubal Cabrera capped a 10-run fifth inning with a grand slam in Cleveland’s rout of visiting Kansas.
Cubs 7, Diamondbacks 2 — Anthony Rizzo had three hits and David DeJesus homered for visiting Chicago.