Blue Jays 5, Yankees 4, 11 innings

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TORONTO (AP)—John Gibbons pumped his fist after the victory and said his Toronto Blue Jays needed it after a rough couple of days.

Vernon Wells homered off Mariano Rivera in the 11th inning to lift the Blue Jays over the New York Yankees 5-4 Thursday night.

Toronto managed to win the day after Shea Hillenbrand was designated for assignment because of some critical comments about the organization.

After Hillenbrand wrote on the clubhouse bulletin board that the “ship was sinking,” Gibbons challenged him to a fight. There was no brawl, but the tense relationship between the two reached the breaking point during a team meeting Wednesday night. He was later cut during the game.

“It’s been a long tiring few days,” Gibbons said. “The guys are tired, yeah we needed that. It was a good way to finish today.”

The Blue Jays moved within three games of New York for second place in the AL East. Toronto is five games back of first-place Boston.

“Whatever happens off the field happens. Once we step on the field we have to be able to separate that kind of stuff and go out and play,” Wells said. “That’s what we get paid to do. If we’re not able to do that we don’t deserve to be in this race.”

Frank Catalanotto led off the 11th with a single to right but was thrown out trying to steal second on a failed hit and run. Wells then hit his 24th homer and the first Rivera (4-5) has allowed all year. It was the first game-winning homer off Rivera since Bill Mueller did it for the Red Sox on July 24, 2004.

Wells, who finished with four hits, was mobbed by his teammates when he touched home plate after the homer to left-center. His drive ended a game that started as a matchup between two of the AL’s best pitchers, Toronto’s Roy Halladay and New York’s Mike Mussina

Brian Tallet (3-0) pitched the 11th for the victory.

The Blue Jays led 4-3 before the Yankees rallied in the eighth. Halladay retired the first two batters of the inning before he was replaced by closer B.J. Ryan, who blew his third save of the season.

Ryan, a left-hander, allowed a single to lefty Jason Giambi and a walk to Alex Rodriguez before Jorge Posada blooped a broken-bat RBI single to left.

Ryan spoiled a strong outing from Halladay, who allowed three runs and eight hits. Mussina gave up four runs and six hits in seven innings, his outing spoiled by a costly error by third baseman Alex Rodriguez.

Toronto scored four runs in the sixth after Aaron Hill led off with a double and advanced to third on a grounder. Reed Johnson followed with a grounder to Rodriguez, whose throw to the plate sailed past catcher Posada.

Johnson went to second on Rodriguez’s team-leading 17th error.

Mussina thought Rodriguez should have conceded the run and thrown to first.

“I know he’s played better. I know he’s disappointed in the way he’s playing. It’s just not him right now. We need him back the way he’s supposed to be,” Mussina said. “I thought he was going to throw to first and then I turn and saw him throw it to home. All he had to do was throw it on target and he was out by 20 feet.”

Rodriguez said he needs to work on not sidearming his throws.

“It’s frustrating. Obviously, you want the inning to stop. Moose was throwing such a good game,” Rodriguez said.

Catalanotto followed with an RBI single to cut it to 3-2.

After Wells singled, Troy Glaus hit a two-run double to left. A sliding Wells beat the throw to the plate.

Johnny Damon hit an RBI double in the first, Bernie Williams hit an RBI grounder in the fourth and Miguel Cairo hit a sacrifice fly in the fifth to give New York a 3-0 lead.


Yankees OF Hideki Matsui could be just days away from taking batting practice after getting a positive report about his broken left wrist on Thursday. Matsui was examined by the same doctor who performed the surgery on the wrist. He injured himself diving for a ball hit by Boston’s Mark Loretta on May 11…. Halladay is unbeaten in his last nine starts at home, going 7-0. … Hill extended his hitting streak to 10 games with his double in the sixth.

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