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Yankees, Blue Jays 7

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- Slumping Nick Swisher hit a grand slam during a seven-run fourth inning, and the Yankees completed a three-game sweep of the Blue Jays on Thursday with a 10-7 victory.

Ichiro Suzuki and Derek Jeter remained hot for New York by combining for four hits and five RBIs in a game that took nearly four hours.

Phil Hughes (16-12) capitalized on the offense to pick up his team-leading 16th victory of the season, but it was Swisher who provided the biggest highlight of New York's 10th win in 14 games.

The Yankees won their fifth straight, giving them their longest winning streak since late June. They also scored 10 runs for the second time during this surge and took a one-game lead on idle Baltimore in the AL East.

Swisher had just 10 hits in his last 71 at-bats, including 23 strikeouts, when he stepped to the plate looking to increase a three-run lead against reliever Brad Lincoln. Swisher took two off-speed pitches and fouled off a fastball before crushing a 96 mph fastball into the right field seats.

It was Swisher's third grand slam of the year and seventh of his career. It also was his first home run since the fifth inning of an 8-7 loss to Toronto on August 27 when his average was above .275.

Hughes won his third straight start, though he was not sharp at all times. He lasted just five innings while allowing four runs and five hits, but he also tied a season high with nine strikeouts.

Derek Lowe pitched two scoreless innings, and Cory Wade gave up three hits, including a solo home run to Kelly Johnson, while recording one out in the eighth. Two more runs scored in the eighth while Joba Chamberlain was pitching, although they were charged to Wade.

David Robertson struck out the side in the ninth for his second save.

Aaron Laffey (3-6) was charged with the loss for the Blue Jays, who have lost seven of their last nine and clinched their second losing season in seven years.

Hughes had nine strikeouts through four innings, one shy of his career high, but also reached 100 pitches when he allowed a two-run home run to Moises Sierra with two outs in the fifth.

The Yankees rallied from an early 2-0 deficit as Ichiro led off the third with his eighth home run and fourth since joining the team. It also was his eighth hit in his last nine at-bats.

In the Yankees' fourth, Russell Martin led off with a 10-pitch walk, stole second and advanced to third when second baseman Johnson's bobbled Curtis Granderson's ground ball.

Casey McGehee walked and Ichiro followed with a two-run double that knocked out Laffey.

Laffey gave up two hits to Suzuki but otherwise held the Yankees hitless. He was undone by giving up a season-worst five walks, and he was charged with three runs in two-plus innings.

The Blue Jays opened the scoring with one out in the second inning as Adam Lind scored on Johnson's double to left field that eluded Ichiro. Hughes avoided further trouble by striking out J.P. Arencibia and getting rookie Adeiny Hechavarria on a groundout.

Hughes encountered significant trouble with two outs in the third after hitting Colby Rasmus in the foot and giving up a base hit to Edwin Encarnacion that deflected off Jayson Nix's glove. He fell behind Lind 3-1 and walked the Toronto first baseman, prompting a visit from pitching coach Larry Rothschild.

Hughes allowed a second run by hitting Sierra in the lower back but used his curveball to strike out Johnson and leave the bases loaded.

NOTES: Yankee left-hander Andy Pettitte did not report any pain or difficulties following his return to the mound on Wednesday afternoon. "I feel good," Pettitte said. "It's good soreness in all the right spots. I was able to do my work and I'll probably run a little bit tomorrow and do my bullpen. I did my work with the bike today, so it's good." Pettitte had a 75-pitch limit on Wednesday, but on Monday in Minnesota, that is expected to increase to 85 or 90. ... First baseman Mark Teixeira (calf) took some swings in the batting cage below the Yankee dugout. He also said that he will play in instructional league games in Tampa on Monday. "I'd love to get in some games," Teixeira said. "That's why I'm going to Tampa because I need to be able to play in some games. Just being in game situations where I leg out a double, I dive in the hole on a groundball and run to first base. Those are needs I need to do in a real game situation because we can't try it out in a playoff game and have me blow out right away. That wouldn't be good for anybody." ... Encarnacion returned to the lineup after sitting out two games with a toe injury. ... Blue Jays manager John Farrell said that he will sit down with Yunel Escobar before Friday's game with Tampa Bay. Escobar was suspended three games for writing an anti-gay slur in Spanish on his eye black last Saturday. "As this event unfolded, I think he began to get an understanding of the scope of it. That wasn't the case at the time,'' Farrell said Thursday. ''Otherwise, I'm hopeful he wouldn't have even thought of doing this. Unfortunately we're having to deal with it. Yunel and everyone else in this uniform has had to deal with it. And it hasn't made anybody happy. I can honestly tell you that.'' Escobar apologized during a 30-minute press conference Tuesday, saying he meant it as a joke.
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