NEW YORK – Aaron Hill and Vernon Wells each hit two-run homers and the Toronto Blue Jays spoiled Alex Rodriguez's return to the New York lineup, beating the Yankees 7-3 on Sunday to halt their eight-game winning streak.
Rodriguez had been out since Aug. 20 with a strained left calf, but the Yankees sure didn't seem to miss him. They were riding their longest winning stretch of the season and 11-3 since he went on the disabled list, carrying a 2½-game lead over Tampa Bay in the AL East into Sunday.
The three-time AL MVP had a pair of hits and drove in a run, but he also grounded out with a runner aboard in the first, dribbled one back to the pitcher with two on in the third, and struck out looking with a runner on third base to end the game.
The biggest issue early on for Rodriguez wasn't so much his ailing body as Brett Cecil (12-7), who's been a pain for New York all season. The Blue Jays starter survived 6 1-3 innings to improve to 3-0 in five tries against the team with the best record in the majors.
Cecil also managed to beat Phil Hughes (16-7) for the second time in just over a week.
The Yankees' young right-hander allowed Hill's two-run homer in the first and Well's two-run shot in the third, putting him in another early hole. Hill added a sacrifice fly in the fifth and John Buck hit a solo home run in the sixth, giving the homer-happy Jays a major league-leading 208 on the season. The franchise record is 244 homers, set in 2004.
Hughes wound up allowing seven hits and matched a season high by giving up six runs. It was also the third time in four starts he's allowed at least five earned runs against Toronto.
The Yankees barely threatened on offense, and each time they did Cecil shut them down.
In the sixth, Marcus Thames reached base on a fielder's choice and went to second on a wild pitch, before Jorge Posada's double off the right-field wall made it 6-2. This time, Cecil got Curtis Granderson to fly out and then struck out Golson to end the inning.
The Blue Jays added a run in the seventh when Sergio Mitre walked Wells with the bases loaded to make it 7-2. It was the first run scored against the Yankees bullpen in 13 innings. Mitre escaped more damage when he got Lyle Overbay to ground into an inning-ending double play.
Rodriguez added his RBI single off reliever Casey Janssen in the seventh, but Thames popped up with two runners on base to end the inning. The Blue Jays bullpen only allowed one hit the rest of the game.
Notes: The Yankees' Mark Teixeira walked three times. He also made an unassisted double play at first base in the ninth. ... Yankees OF Nick Swisher (left knee) was kept out of the starting lineup but pinch hit in the eighth. He grounded into a fielder's choice. ... The Blue Jays snapped a three-game skid while improving to 8-7 against New York this season.