NEW YORK – Omar Vizquel has accomplished a lot in his 24-year career. Passing New York Yankees slugger Babe Ruth on baseball's hits list was a milestone he never expected to reach.
Vizquel moved ahead of Ruth with an RBI double in the eighth inning Wednesday, but a Toronto rally after Andy Pettitte was out of the game fell short, and the Blue Jays lost to New York 4-2 in the opener of a split-doubleheader.
The 45-year-old Vizquel had two hits to move into 41st place on the hits list with 2,874.
"I think when you get a hit to tie one of the best hitters in baseball, it's an amazing feeling. I mean, this guy has been a legend in the game for a long time and, to mention my name right next to his just makes me feel so little," Vizquel said. "I never thought, never, ever, in my career of baseball that's been a long one, that I was gonna come close, to even compare my hits with the Babe. It's just unbelievable. It's very emotional, especially here in New York, the house that he built."
Vizquel had his second multihit game in a row and 10th of the season, good for second best in big league history for a player 45 or older behind Julio Franco, who has 53 such games, according to information provided to the Yankees by the Elias Sports Bureau.
"When you start talking about the names that you're mentioning, this is an outstanding career and he's finishing up on a strong note," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said.
Vizquel's double off David Robertson followed pinch-hitter Kelly Johnson's RBI single and pulled Toronto to 3-2. Pettitte had pitched five innings of four-hit ball in his return from a broken leg before giving way to the bullpen with a 3-0 lead.
Rafael Soriano relieved Robertson with two on and two outs and walked Anthony Gose to load the bases. Ichiro Suzuki then caught Rajai Davis' sinking liner to left field against his stomach for the third out, getting a big cheer from the sparse makeup game crowd.
"I'm glad I don't have a big belly because if I did it might've hit the belly and popped out," Suzuki said through a translator.
Soriano was perfect in the ninth to finish for his 41st save.
Pettitte (4-3) looked like his old steely self in giving up four hits in his first September start since 2010. Injured on June 27, the postseason career wins leader boosted the Yankees into a half-game lead in the AL East over the pesky Baltimore Orioles.
"When you see these guys go through what they've been going through, and I've been sitting here watching and just trying to cheerlead for them, it's great to be able to go out there and feel like you contributed," he said.
Robinson Cano had an RBI double in a three-run first against Henderson Alvarez (9-13) that also included Alex Rodriguez's run-scoring groundout and Curtis Granderson's sacrifice fly.
But Alvarez shut down the Yankees the rest of the way, giving the Blue Jays a chance. He yielded three hits in the first, and five overall, striking out a career-high seven in seven innings without allowing a walk.
"I've been more aggressive with all the pitches, including the changeup," Alvarez said. "Because I'm more aggressive, I get more action on the pitch. It's working for me right now."
In the makeup of a game washed out Tuesday night, Suzuki had three hits batting leadoff as Derek Jeter was given the opener off. Jeter was expected to play shortstop in the nightcap for the first time in a week because of a sore left ankle.
Pettitte threw 75 pitches in his first start since a line drive off the bat of Cleveland's Casey Kotchman broke his left fibula. Yankees manager Joe Girardi mixed and matched liberally, using six relievers to get the much needed win.
Nick Swisher had an RBI single in the bottom half.
The Blue Jays, playing their first doubleheader against the Yankees since 1986, were without Yunel Escobar, who began a three-game suspension for wearing eye black displaying an anti-gay slur written in Spanish during a game last weekend against Boston.
NOTES: Alvarez allowed five hits in seven innings and struck out a career-high seven. ... Toronto DH Edwin Encarnacion (sore right big toe) wasn't in the starting lineup for the opener. ... The Blue Jays will play another doubleheader Monday, making up an Aug. 26 postponement at Baltimore. They will play nine games in seven days. ... To make room for Pettitte on the 40-man roster, the Yankees recalled RHP Dellin Betances from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and placed him on the 60-day DL.