Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Santiago Espinal puts the home run jacket on shortstop Bo Bichette (11) after he homered during third inning MLB action against the New York Yankees in Toronto on Wednesday September 29, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Bichette’s second homer is go-ahead blast as Blue Jays earn critical win over Yankees

Bichette’s second homer is go-ahead blast as Blue Jays earn critical win over Yankees

TORONTO — Bo Bichette hit a go-ahead solo shot in the eighth inning — his second homer of the game — to power the Toronto Blue Jays to a much-needed 6-5 victory over the New York Yankees on Wednesday night at Rogers Centre.

Jordan Romano closed things out for his 22nd save as Toronto halted New York’s seven-game winning streak and moved two games behind the Yankees in the battle for the two American League wild-card spots.

New York holds the first spot and is just one game up on the Boston Red Sox, who kept their hold on the second spot with a 6-0 win over the Baltimore Orioles.

Toronto moved into a tie with the Seattle Mariners, who were also one game behind Boston entering their late game against the Oakland Athletics.

The Yankees and Blue Jays will close out their three-game series Thursday night. Both teams have four games left to play.

Marcus Semien had the other Toronto homer as the Blue Jays took a 5-2 lead into the sixth inning behind a solid start from Jose Berrios. The Yankees scored once in the sixth and tied the game in the seventh when Kyle Higashioka hit a two-run single off reliever Tim Mayza.

Berrios struck out the side in the first inning and the Blue Jays’ offence staked him to an early lead.

George Springer put a charge in the announced crowd of 29,601 with a leadoff double off Yankees starter Gerrit Cole and scored when Semien turned on a 97-m.p.h. fastball for his 44th homer.

The blast put Semien ahead of Davey Johnson (1973 New York Mets) for the all-time record for home runs by a second baseman in a season.

Springer helped pad the lead in the second inning as the Blue Jays pushed Cole’s pitch count to 40. With Santiago Espinal aboard after a one-out double, Springer stroked an RBI single to make it 3-0.

Bichette launched a solo shot in the third to set a franchise record for most homers by a shortstop. He moved past Tony Batista (1999) with his 27th homer of the year.

Berrios, meanwhile, was in stellar form — retiring the first 14 Yankees in order — until New York scored a pair in the fifth inning.

Gleyber Torres reached on a double down the left-field line and scored on a Gio Urshela seeing-eye single. Brett Gardner followed with an RBI double.

Springer was given credit for a two-base hit in the bottom half of the fifth after a communication breakdown in shallow left field.

Urshela tracked the ball from his shortstop position before pulling away at the last second in front of left-fielder Joey Gallo, who could only watch it drop. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., made the Yankees pay by ending a career-long 0-for-20 drought with a double that scored Springer.

DJ LeMahieu led off the sixth with a double, moved to third base on an Anthony Rizzo groundout and scored on a Mike Judge sacrifice fly. With two down and a full count to slugger Giancarlo Stanton, Berrios thrilled the crowd by getting the cleanup hitter on a meek groundout.

Mayza, one of Toronto’s most dependable relievers, put the first two runners in the seventh. Gallo was hit by a pitch and Torres reached on an infield single.

Urshela struck out and pinch-hitter Luke Voit fanned as well, but catcher Reese McGuire couldn’t corral a wild pitch that generated the third strike. The runners advanced and both scored when No. 9 hitter Higashioka — who entered the game with a .186 average — hit a sharp single.

Bichette greeted reliever Clay Holmes (8-4) to the game in the eighth by turning on a 1-0 sinker.

Toronto reliever Adam Cimber (3-4) recorded four key outs ahead of Romano for the win. The Blue Jays outhit the Yankees 10-7.

Notes: The game took two hours 52 minutes to play. … The Blue Jays lead the major leagues with 251 homers this season. … Both Semien and Bichette reached the 100-RBI plateau. … Toronto ace left-hander Robbie Ray (13-6, 2.68 earned-run average) is scheduled to start Thursday against right-hander Corey Kluber (5-3, 3.82). … The Yankees will close out their regular season with a weekend series against the East Division-leading Tampa Bay Rays.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 29, 2021.

Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.

Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press

Blue Jays