TORONTO - After a slow start in his second go-round with the New York Yankees, Javier Vazquez is beginning to live up to expectations.
Vazquez pitched seven splendid innings, Robinson Cano hit a tiebreaking, two-run single in the eighth and the Yankees rallied past the Toronto Blue Jays 4-3 on Sunday to avoid a three-game sweep.
Vernon Wells' two-run homer in the sixth was the only hit allowed by Vazquez (5-5).
"This is the guy that we thought we were getting," New York manager Joe Girardi said.
Vazquez walked four and struck out a season-high nine to win consecutive starts for the first time this year.
"The last couple of starts I've been feeling much better with my command and what my pitches are doing," he said. "I feel good that I could do it against an offense like the Blue Jays."
Girardi said Vazquez's changeup was the best it's been all season, and catcher Francisco Cervelli said that was the key to keeping Toronto's bats in check.
"They always take a big swing and hit a lot of homers so we just tried to change the rhythm a little bit," Cervelli said. "Offspeed is, I think, the best way."
New York's power-packed lineup managed just three runs in the first 30 innings of the series before scoring four times in the eighth.
The comeback spoiled a fine outing by Blue Jays right-hander Brandon Morrow, who left to a standing ovation after hitting Cervelli in the shoulder with a pitch to begin the eighth.
Scott Downs (1-5) came on and plunked Brett Gardner, then gave up an RBI double to Derek Jeter.
Jason Frasor replaced Downs and struck out Nick Swisher on a check-swing. Girardi came out to argue the call and was ejected by plate umpire Bruce Dreckman, which appeared to spark the Yankees.
"Sometimes I think I should get thrown out in the first," Girardi said.
Girardi, who wasn't wearing his cap when he came out, kicked the dirt on either side of home plate and held his fingers apart in front of Dreckman's face before leaving the field.
"I thought the strike zone at times was generous, and I didn't think Swisher had swung," Girardi said. "I threw my hat when he called it and I didn't go back to get it."
Mark Teixeira was walked intentionally, and the tying run scored on Frasor's two-strike wild pitch to Alex Rodriguez that got past catcher Jose Molina.
Rodriguez struck out but Cano lined a two-run single to left.
Wells hit a two-run shot on an 0-2 slider with two outs in the sixth. His 15th homer extended his hitting streak to 14 games.
Joba Chamberlain replaced Vazquez in the eighth but gave up a double to Molina and an RBI single to Fred Lewis, cutting it to 4-3, then left after Aaron Hill grounded into a double play.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
Bench coach Tony Pena, filling in for Girardi, came out of the dugout and motioned to the bullpen with his left hand - but right-hander Mariano Rivera came jogging in from the bullpen. After Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston spoke with the umpires, they huddled and concluded that lefty Damaso Marte had been called for instead.
"I'm going to let Tony explain that to you," Girardi said. "Whatever it is, it worked."
HBT: Robinson Cano homered twice while David Phelps had the longest outing of his career as the Yankees topped the Blue Jays 7-2 this afternoon at Yankee Stadium.
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