NEW YORK — Jose Bautista decided it was time to take charge, not with his bat but with his feet.
The Toronto slugger stole second base without a throw with two outs in the ninth inning and scored when Dioner Navarro hit a go-ahead single, lifting the Blue Jays over the New York Yankees 5-4 Sunday for their first series win in the Bronx in nearly two years.
“I just took a chance and said I’m going to try and take a hop step when he comes set, and if he doesn’t fake, I’m going to run,” said Bautista, who chose to run on his own against David Robertson. “He went to the plate, and I had the easiest stolen base. I got in scoring position early in the at-bat for Dioner.”
Robertson (1-3) blamed himself for letting Bautista run just ahead of Navarro’s liner to centre field.
“I just let him slip. I didn’t think he’d be going, Robertson said. ”I just didn’t have my sharp stuff.“
After snapping a 17-game skid at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, Toronto did not relent in the humidity even when it wasted three leads.
The Blue Jays won for the seventh time in 10 games following the All-Star break — the same record as the Yankees. But their first series win in New York against the AL East rival since Aug. 27-29, 2012, sent Toronto to Boston with a one-game lead over the Yankees for the second AL wild card.
“Within our team, it’s more of a statement that we won’t accept losing to anybody, because we are known as a team that doesn’t give up and always battles and tries to come back from any game that we’re in,” Bautista said.
Aaron Sanchez (1-0) gave up Carlos Beltran’s tying RBI hit in the eighth. Munenori Kawasaki had put Toronto ahead with a sacrifice fly that followed Dellin Betances’ two-base error on a pickoff attempt.
“My cleat got stuck,” Betances said. “As soon as that happened I had a feeling I was going to throw it away.”
Juan Francisco homered off Shane Greene leading off the fifth to put Toronto up 2-0. But Chase Headley hit his first homer with the Yankees, a drive off J.A. Happ, and two pitches later Francisco Cervelli hit his first homer in 15 months to tie it in the sixth.
Casey Janssen pitched the ninth for his 16th save.
Derek Jeter made two nice stops at shortstop and Brendan Ryan, a shortstop playing second base, also flashed some impressive leather while playing in Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. The injured star was on the East Coast for a second opinion on his hip flexor from a doctor in Philadelphia.
Bautista had a run-scoring grounder to first base after Jose Reyes led off the game with a single and Melky Cabrera doubled. Francisco led off the fifth with a drive into the second deck in right field for a 2-0 lead.
But Happ gave it all back in a three-pitch span in the bottom half. First, Headley hit a drive deep to left. With a 1-0 count, Cervelli sent a shot to right-centre that glanced off a leaping Cabrera’s glove and hit the top of the right-field wall. Cervelli hadn’t homered since April 25, 2013, a span of 65 at-bats.
Rausmus put Toronto back up with a double to left-centre in the sixth, chasing Greene after 5 1-3 innings.
“I got to have a short memory, but that one hurt,” Greene said of the pitch to Rasmus.
Greene allowed eight hits and three runs in his second straight difficult outing after beginning his career as a starter with two outstanding outings.