Yankees Sweep Blue Jays to Take Sole Possession of AL East Lead

Sept. 20 (Bloomberg) -- The New York Yankees swept the Toronto Blue Jays in a doubleheader to take a half-game lead in the American League East division over the Baltimore Orioles, who defeated the Seattle Mariners in extra innings.

The Yankees (85-63) defeated the Blue Jays 2-1 last night after winning the first game 4-2. The Orioles, who needed 18 innings to beat the Mariners 4-2 two nights ago, won 3-1 in 11 innings last night. Baltimore (85-64) and the Oakland Athletics (84-64), who lost 6-2 to the Detroit Tigers yesterday, lead the race for the AL’s two wild-card berths.

Ichiro Suzuki, who was 7-for-8 in yesterday’s two games, hit a run-scoring single in eighth inning to give the Yankees the win in the night game at Yankee Stadium.

“I don’t know if you ever imagine a guy going 7-for-8 in a day,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “He’s just a heads-up player and you saw a lot of it today.”

During the night game, Adeiny Hechavarria hit a run-scoring single in the second inning to give the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead. Chris Stewart’s ground-rule double in the bottom of the second scored Casey McGehee. Curtis Granderson scored the winning run on the single by Suzuki, who stole four of the Yankees’ season-high seven bases.

Orioles Win

Cody Eppley got the win to improve to 1-2 and Rafael Soriano struck out one in the ninth as he got his 42nd save.

At Safeco Field in Seattle, Adam Jones hit a two-run homer in the 11th inning to give the Orioles a three-game sweep of the Mariners (70-80).

Chris Davis scored on Mark Reynolds’s single in the fourth to give the Orioles the lead and Franklin Gutierrez tied it with a home run in the bottom of the inning.

“It’s just a bunch of grinders,” Oriole closer Jim Johnson said after earning his 45th save. “These guys never give up.”

Luis Ayala (4-5) got the win, pitching one-third inning for the Orioles. Josh Kinney (0-3) allowed two runs on two hits in one inning for the loss.

In the afternoon game at Yankee Stadium, Andy Pettitte threw five shutout innings in his first start in 85 days for the Yankees. Pettitte, 40, allowed four hits and three walks on 75 pitches.

Trailing 3-0 in the top of the eighth, the Blue Jays scored twice and loaded the bases before New York closer Soriano induced a line drive to left field. Suzuki ran in and caught the ball, cradling it against his chest as he rolled to the ground to end the inning.

Pettitte hadn’t pitched since June 27, when a line drive broke his left ankle. He was given a 3-0 lead in the first inning and struck out three before leaving when he reached his pitch limit.

Both Blue Jays runs were charged to David Robertson, who allowed four hits in two-thirds of an inning. Soriano recorded the final four outs for his 41st save of the season.

The Yankees, who held a 10-game divisional lead on July 18, haven’t ended a day out of first place since June 10.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nancy Kercheval in Washington at nkercheval@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net