NEW YORK (AP)—Jaret Wright must feel as though there’s a bull’s-eye on his back—not to mention his neck, chest and elbow.
Bruised by a line drive again, Wright was ineffective and the Toronto Blue Jays ended New York’s five-game winning streak Saturday with a 7-4 victory over the Yankees.
“A bat, two balls—I don’t know,” Wright said. “When it keeps happening, it’s definitely frustrating.”
Hideki Matsui and Robinson Cano made costly errors for the Yankees, who lost for only the second time in 13 games. Chasing their eighth consecutive division title, they fell into a tie for the AL East lead with Boston, which won 4-3 at Baltimore, and dropped 1 1/2 games behind Cleveland in the wild-card race.
“The focus is always on this division. We can disrupt some things,” said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, whose team begins a four-game series at Fenway Park on Monday.
Batista then fanned all three batters in the ninth for his 30th save in 38 chances.
“We have a chance to play spoilers right now. It’s fun to play in an atmosphere like this,” Downs said.
Wright (5-4) gave up singles to his first three batters, loading the bases and prompting a visit from pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre.
Hillenbrand hit a dribbler toward third for an infield single, driving in the first run. Hinske lofted a sacrifice fly to left, and Matsui dropped the ball for an error that allowed another run to score.
Gregg Zaun then smacked a liner right back at Wright, knocking the pitcher off his feet. But he was lucky this time—the ball hit him on the right side of his chest, leaving Wright with nothing more serious than yet another bruise.
It was the third time this month that he was literally hit hard on the mound. He was knocked out of a start in Seattle on Sept. 1 when Raul Ibanez’s liner struck him near the neck. And he left his previous outing Sunday in Toronto after he was hit in the right elbow by a broken bat.
“Three times now, what can you do?” Wright said. “It got me square in the chest. It’s sore and tight. It feels like the other ones, I guess.”
He threw to first from his knees for the first out of the game, holding the runners at second and third. Visibly jarred, Wright looked down and shook his head as teammates gathered around.
“That’s the first thing I thought was, Oh my God!” manager Joe Torre said. “It’s just crazy, it really is.”
With Torre and a trainer looking on, Wright threw a few warmup pitches, took a deep breath and went back to work.
“I’ve never seen that before,” teammate Derek Jeter said. “Sometimes they say things happen in threes, hopefully that’s the end of it.”
On Friday night, Torre joked about Wright’s recent misfortune and what he expected from this outing.
“I hope that he can catch the ball before it hits him,” the manager said.
Little did he know that would be a real concern again.
Wright remained in the game this time, but the results never improved. Reed Johnson’s sacrifice fly made it 4-0, and the right-hander gave up two singles and a walk before he was pulled for Aaron Small with the bases loaded in the second.
X-rays showed Wright is fine, and he said the line drive didn’t affect the way he threw.
“I had a hard time getting the ball down,” he said. “I was bad.”
After Vernon Wells popped out, Hillenbrand hit a hard, one-hop smash to second that Cano couldn’t handle. The ball ricocheted into right field, allowing two runs to score, and Cano was charged with an extremely tough error.
“It was a hard line drive,” Cano said. “Came up too quick.”
Hillenbrand was credited with one RBI, and Hinske added another sacrifice fly.
Rodriguez’s two-run shot in the first gave him 46 homers, tying Joe DiMaggio (1937) for the most by a right-handed hitter in Yankees history.
Rodriguez had an RBI single in the second, cutting it to 7-3, and Jeter drove in a run with an infield single in the sixth.
Wright allowed seven runs—three earned—and six hits. Small, who is 9-0, kept New York in the game with 6 2-3 shutout innings and left to a standing ovation—perhaps earning himself another start.
“We’ll have to make that decision. It’s not about promotions or demotions,” Torre said. “Right now there is no rotation. We’re just trying to win as many games as possible.”
The Yankees became the third major league franchise to draw 4 million fans in a season, joining Toronto (1992 and ’93) and Colorado (1993). … Giambi was back in the lineup at 1B after missing two games with a tight back. … Jeter was hit by a pitch his first two times up.