Toronto, ON – It took a late rally, but the New York Yankees are still tied for first place.
Staring at four-run deficit after five innings with Baltimore comfortably ahead in its game against Boston, the Yankees scored eight runs over the final four innings to earn a 9-6 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
Robinson Cano keyed the comeback with three hits, an RBI and two runs scored, as New York kept a share of first place with the Orioles in the AL East heading to the final three games of the season.
After the Texas Rangers won the second game of a doubleheader with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Sunday, the Yankees and Orioles each secured a playoff berth, leaving the final three games of the season to decide who will take home the AL East crown.
The Yankees managed a split of the four games in Toronto and will head home for three with the Red Sox, who were just swept in Baltimore. The Orioles will travel to St. Petersburg for three with the Tampa Bay Rays. A one-game playoff, if the teams remain tied, would be Thursday in Baltimore.
New York trailed 5-1 after an awful start by Phil Hughes, but picked up a run in the sixth and three in the seventh to tie it, then took the lead for the first time in the eighth.
Curtis Granderson drew a leadoff walk from Darren Oliver (3-4) to start the eighth and Raul Ibanez followed with a single. Brandon Lyon took over on the mound and Russell Martin advanced the runners with a sacrifice before Eduardo Nunez drilled a shot to the gap in right-center field that was run down by Moises Sierra, but it was plenty deep enough to score Granderson from third with the go-ahead run. Derek Jeter then singled home pinch-runner Brett Gardner for a 7-5 edge.
The Yankees tacked on two more in the ninth, loading the bases on singles by Alex Rodriguez and Cano and a walk to Nick Swisher. Granderson then singled home two more for a four-run advantage.
"You just try to put guys on and hope guys come through," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi about the comeback. It's a big win for us, to rally and come through in that situation."
Toronto tried to mount its own rally in the ninth against Rafael Soriano in a non-save situation, loading the bases with no outs. Yunel Escobar then grounded into a double play to score one and Adam Lind bounced to second to end the contest.
The rally made a winner of Boone Logan (7-2), who got the last two outs of the seventh inning. Hughes was tagged for five runs on eight hits over 4 2/3 innings in the start for the Yankees, who got 4 1/3 innings of two-hit relief. Derek Lowe took over for the ineffective Hughes and retired all five batters he faced and David Robertson worked a scoreless eighth.
"I didn't throw the ball well and it could have been disastrous, but the guys battled back," said Hughes. "Derek (Lowe) did a great job."
New York was unable to do much against Toronto starter Henderson Alvarez, who left after six innings with a lead. He yielded just two runs on seven hits with four strikeouts and no walks.
After Alvarez departed with a 5-2 lead, the Yankees tied it with three runs against the Toronto bullpen. Nunez singled off Brett Cecil to start the rally and Jeter doubled off Steve Delabar before Ichiro Suzuki chased home the first run with a sacrifice fly. Rodriguez drew a walk and Cano doubled home a run before Rodriguez scored the tying run on a wild pitch by Aaron Loup. Cano, though, was doubled off third when Nick Swisher lined to shortstop with the infield in.
The Blue Jays opened a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Rajai Davis singled with one out and Edwin Encarnacion walked before Escobar drilled an RBI double off the wall in right field. Lind followed with a sacrifice fly.
Toronto stranded a pair in the second and the Yankees got one back in the third when Eric Chavez led off the inning with his 16th homer of the season.
The Jays extended their lead with three runs in the fifth. Anthony Gose led off with a single and Brett Lawrie blasted his 11th home run into the second deck in left field. Escobar kept the inning alive with a two-out single, raced to third on a base hit by Lind and scored on single to left by Sierra.
"I would have liked to have a win rather than getting three hits, but obviously that didn't happen," Lawrie said of the setback.
Cano led off the top of the sixth with a double, took third on a base hit by Swisher and scored on a wild pitch to pull New York within 5-2.
The Yankees have won nine straight in games immediately following a loss and haven't lost consecutive games since dropping three in a row in early September ... Toronto hasn't won a series at home since July 27-29 against Detroit, going 0-6-2 in its last eight series at Rogers Centre ... Davis finished 2-for-5 and was 9-for-13 over the final three games ... Cano is 15- for-24 during a six-game hitting streak. He has 46 doubles this season and matched Lou Gehrig for the most 45-double seasons in Yankee history with three ... New York finished 11-7 against the Blue Jays this season, including 4-5 in Toronto ... The Yankees could have first baseman Mark Teixeira back on Monday. He is expected to rejoin the team in New York after a rehab assignment in Tampa and will be examined by doctors to determine if he is cleared to play.