Rodriguez was the Yankees’ designated hitter after committing five errors in five games—and this time his woes were at the plate. He went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts, including one with the bases loaded in the sixth.
Rodriguez struck out four times in a game for the first time since June 22, 1995, against the Chicago White Sox.
“It was just one of those days. It makes your head spin a little bit, but you put it behind you,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez was forced to play the field in the ninth and caught a popup for the final out of the game.
He was at the ballpark at 11 a.m. Saturday, an hour before the team bus even left the hotel. He worked on his throwing. Eleven of his AL-leading 18 errors have been on throws.
“I thought for me the biggest thing of the day was my work,” Rodriguez said. “That’s what I take out of the day. I’m glad we did it. I’ve been feeling great at the plate so I’m not really concerned about what I’m doing in the box. I know I’m going to hit.”
Rodriguez entered the game 12-for-36 (.333) with five home runs and eight RBIs in his career against starter Ted Lilly, but he struck out three times against him.
“He’s just struggling right now,” manager Joe Torre said. “He’s striking out. He’s swinging and missing at some pitches that he hits.”
Torre said the Yankees were flat in Friday’s loss, so he called a team meeting before the game. Rodriguez said it was the longest meeting they’ve had in some time.
Jason Giambi gave Torre credit for helping end the skid.
“That’s the amazing thing about Joe. He doesn’t really call for too many meetings. He just wanted to make sure that we weren’t getting sloppy,” Giambi said. “He said, ‘We have a tough four games in Toronto. Don’t let them slip away.’ Before you know it we lose four here and we’re going on the road.”
Chien-Ming Wang (11-4) won his third straight start, allowing four runs and 10 hits in six innings. He struck out one and walked one.
Mariano Rivera made his 700th career appearance, pitching the ninth for his 23rd save in 24 chances. Rivera blew the save in Thursday’s loss to Toronto.
The second-place Yankees moved three games ahead of the third-place Blue Jays in the AL East.
“It was a big win for us,” Jeter said. “You want control to your losing streaks.”
Newly acquired reliever Jeremy Accardo arrived before the game but didn’t pitch.
“He’ll fit in nicely, we got him for a reason,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “He’s going to be a big part of this.”
After Lilly nearly hit Jorge Posada with a pitch in the second, Posada yelled at Lilly before hitting a triple into the gap in left-center.
“If I was going to hit him, I would try to do it with a four-seam fastball instead of a cutter,” Lilly said.
Williams followed with his homer to give New York a 2-0 lead.
Aaron Hill hit an RBI single in the bottom half and Hinske tied it at 2 in the fourth with his homer.
Lyle Overbay’s two-run double gave Toronto a 4-2 lead in the fifth.
Lilly committed a run-scoring balk in the fifth, allowing Damon to score.
New York RHP Jaret Wright pinch-ran after Giambi walked in the ninth. … Damon stole his 300th base in the sixth inning. … Blue Jays general manager J.P. Riccardi said RF Alex Rios is expected to return to the team Aug. 1 at New York. Rios hasn’t played in a month because of an infection in his left leg. Riccardi said he’ll probably go on a rehab stint in the minors for four or six games starting Tuesday.