Giambi’s grand slam leads Yankees to sixth straight win, 9-2 over Toronto

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TORONTO (AP)—At 20 games above .500 for the first time this season, New York Yankees manager Joe Torre is starting to feel comfortable talking about a playoff berth.

Jason Giambi hit a grand slam, Jorge Posada added a solo homer and the Yankees beat the Toronto Blue Jays 9-2 on Tuesday night for their sixth straight victory.

New York (82-62) has won 10 of its last 13 to move a season-high 20 games over .500. The Yankees are four games ahead of Detroit in the AL wild-card standings after the Tigers split a doubleheader with Texas on Tuesday.

“When you make 20, you have to be seriously considering playing in October,” Torre said. “Right now we have our fate in our hands. If we go out there and keep winning ball games, we’ll be fine.”

Giambi, who was 2-for-27 over his past 10 games, went 1-for-3, walking and scoring in the second inning. The grand slam was his first of the season and 12th of his career. Doug Mientkiewicz replaced Giambi at first base in the seventh.

“That was a big one to get off my back,” Giambi said. “It was exciting. It came in a big situation and I got a big hit. With the bases loaded you know he doesn’t want to walk in a run. He just left the fastball up and out over the plate enough where I could put the bat head to it.”

New York has gone 61-33 since May 29, when a 3-2 loss to Toronto dropped the Yankees a season-worst eight games below .500 at 21-29.

“The way we started, I think it’s a big accomplishment,” Posada said. “We’ve been very good after the All-Star break. We’ve done a lot of things well. Our pitching staff really deserves a lot of credit for the things they’ve been doing lately.”

The Yankees got solid pitching Tuesday from right-hander Phil Hughes, who allowed two runs—one earned—and three hits in six innings to win for the first time since Aug. 10, at Cleveland. Hughes (3-3) walked three, struck out one and retired 10 of the final 11 batters he faced.

“He just seemed relaxed,” Torre said. “The last few innings were great.”

Toronto loaded the bases with two outs in the first, but Hughes stabbed a hard shot by Aaron Hill and threw him out to escape the jam.

“I didn’t have that swing-and-miss fastball tonight but I was able to battle through and the offense took over,” Hughes said.

Edwar Ramirez struck out five in two innings of scoreless relief, and Ross Ohlendorf closed it out in the ninth in his major league debut.

Toronto lost its fourth straight and fell 10 games behind New York in the wild-card race.

“Reality does set in sometimes,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “There’s so few games left.”

The Yankees took a 3-0 lead in the second against right-hander Shaun Marcum. Posada doubled and later scored on a wild pitch before Johnny Damon hit a two-run single.

Toronto made it 3-2 in the bottom of the inning when Gregg Zaun scored on a single by Russ Adams and John McDonald came around on a throwing error by center fielder Melky Cabrera.

Posada’s two-out homer in the third made it 4-2 and the Yankees pulled away in the fifth.

Bobby Abreu led off with a double and remained at second when Alex Rodriguez reached on an infield single. Hideki Matsui flied out, Posada walked and Giambi followed with his 13th homer and first since Aug. 26.

That was the end for Marcum (12-6), who allowed eight runs and eight hits in 4 1-3 innings, losing for the first time in four starts. He walked a season-high four and struck out five.

Matsui made it 9-2 with a sacrifice fly in the eighth.

Seeking to homer for the sixth consecutive game, Rodriguez finished 2-for-4 with two infield singles and an intentional walk.

Damon went 3-for-5 with two RBIs.

Toronto right-hander Josh Banks made his major league debut with a 1-2-3 ninth.

Notes

Firefighters from New York and Toronto joined the players on the field in a pregame ceremony to mark the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. God Bless America was played during the seventh-inning stretch. … Cabrera threw out Lyle Overbay at third after Overbay held up on McDonald’s fielder’s choice liner in the second. … The game was delayed for two minutes in the bottom of the eighth when Posada was forced to go the clubhouse to replace his catcher’s mask, which was bent by an errant pitch.

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