TORONTO – Greg Bird hit a three-run homer in the 10th inning to power the New York Yankees to a 6-4 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night at Rogers Centre.
With Brian McCann and Slade Heathcott aboard, Bird lined a 2-2 pitch from reliever Mark Lowe over the wall in right field for his 10th homer of the season. Andrew Miller (3-2), who blew a save opportunity in the ninth, gave up a solo homer to Edwin Encarnacion in the 10th before completing the victory.
With the win, New York (83-67) moved 2 1/2 games behind first-place Toronto in the American League East division race. The teams will play the rubber game in the three-game set Wednesday night.
New York has 12 games left to play in the regular season, one more than the Blue Jays.
The sellout crowd of 47,992 got its money’s worth with a rollicking back-and-forth affair that had a playoff atmosphere.
Carlos Beltran gave New York a 3-2 lead with a solo shot in the eighth inning but Dioner Navarro answered with a solo homer of his own an inning later. The Blue Jays loaded the bases before Miller struck out Josh Donaldson to force extra innings.
Jacoby Ellsbury led off the game with a double and scored when McCann drove a pitch off the wall for a long single. Alex Rodriguez, who reached on a walk, made it 2-0 after a sacrifice fly by Beltran.
The Yankees put two more runners in scoring position before Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada escaped by striking out Chase Headley.
Kevin Pillar put Toronto on the board in the third inning with a solo shot off New York starter Luis Severino. He belted a 2-2 pitch into the second deck for his 11th homer of the year.
Donaldson worked a leadoff walk in the fourth inning, moved to second base on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Justin Smoak.
Estrada, meanwhile, settled down after his rocky start. He retired 11 batters in row before issuing a four-pitch walk to Dustin Ackley with one out in the seventh.
Didi Gregorius followed by driving a pitch into right field and Ackley tested Jose Bautista’s arm by going for third base. The throw was high but Donaldson made a nice play to catch the ball, twist backwards and apply the tag.
Ackley was called safe by third-base umpire Greg Gibson but Blue Jays manager John Gibbons challenged the call and it was overturned.
Estrada intentionally walked Ellsbury and was relieved by Aaron Loup. The left-hander allowed an infield single to Brett Gardner to load the bases before Liam Hendriks fanned Rodriguez on three pitches.
Toronto loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth inning but Dellin Betances got Encarnacion to wave at a third strike.
New York nearly padded its lead in the ninth but Bautista showed off his arm again by throwing out Chris Young at home plate. Rodriguez flew out to end the threat.
Estrada allowed six hits and two earned runs over 6 2/3 innings. He allowed three walks and had three strikeouts. Severino worked six innings and allowed three hits, two earned runs, three walks and struck out three batters.
Lowe shouldered the loss to fall to 1-3. The game took three hours 39 minutes to play.
Notes: It was the Blue Jays’ ninth straight sellout… Toronto shortstop Troy Tulowitzki fielded some ground balls and took some swings off a tee before the game. He suffered a cracked left shoulder blade on Sept. 12. There is still no firm timetable for his return… Gibbons said he plans to use Lowe and Brett Cecil as setup men more often. Aaron Sanchez may still be used in the eighth inning and earlier in games as needed, Gibbons said… Toronto’s Marcus Stroman (2-0, 3.00 earned-run average) is scheduled to start the series finale against fellow right-hander Ivan Nova (6-8, 5.11). The Blue Jays get a day off Thursday before wrapping up their nine-game homestand with a three-game series against Tampa Bay.