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Escobar Wields Big Stick in Bronx

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Yunel Escobar  Jeff Zelevansky Getty Images Sport

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By HOWIE RUMBERG   AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) _ Yunel Escobar got a much-needed break last week
when he took three days off for the birth of his child.
It’s made all the difference.

Escobar hit a two-run homer, three doubles and drove in five
runs as Toronto beat the New York Yankees 8-5 Wednesday, ending CC
Sabathia’s five years of dominance over the Blue Jays.
The light-hitting shortstop went 15 games without getting more
than a single before he went on the paternity list. In the four
games back he has six for extra bases.
“At the time of the birth he was a little frustrated with how
he was performing but that three-day break allowed him to relax and
come back with a more positive mindset,” injured slugger Jose
Bautista said, translating for Escobar.

Escobar had a go-ahead RBI double in the third. His homer
against Sabathia in the sixth gave the Blue Jays the lead again and
his two-run double off Joba Chamberlain in the ninth helped secure
Toronto’s first series win since July 27-29. The five RBIs matched
a career high for Escobar.

J.A. Happ (3-1) overcame a season-high five walks, including an
intentional pass of Derek Jeter to load the bases with one out in
the fourth inning, for the Blue Jays’ second win in 10 games.
“He feels like anything positive that happens to the club is
going to be welcome right now,” Escobar said. “He feels like
winning a series on the road against a club like the Yankees that’s
definitely a positive and he hopes it can help bring up team morale
a little bit.”

The Yankees made three errors in losing for the sixth time in
nine games. Their inability to win consecutive games for the first
time since sweeping Texas three in a row Aug. 13-15 has hurt them
in the standings. New York’s lead in the AL East would dwindle to 2
1/2 half games if Baltimore wins later Wednesday. June 24 was the
last time anyone was that close.
“We didn’t play well, that’s the bottom line,” Yankees manager
Joe Girardi said. “We had chances offensively: didn’t get it done.
We had chances defensively: didn’t get it done.”

Four Blue Jays relievers combined to hold New York to a run and
four doubles over four innings. Brandon Lyon opened the eighth by
giving up consecutive doubles to pinch-hitter Raul Ibanez and
Russell Martin, whose grounder bounced high off third base to make
it 6-5.

Colby Rasmus, a late-game entrant, made a diving catch on Ichiro
Suzuki’s sinking liner and Lyon struck out Eric Chavez and got
Jeter, with the crowd chanting his name, to fly out to right.
Casey Janssen pitched a perfect ninth for his 17th save after
blowing an opportunity in the ninth inning Monday night.
“Today epitomized a game in which we had contributions from a
number of guys,” manager John Farrell said.
Sabathia (13-4) was undefeated over his last nine starts against
Toronto _ 8-0 with a 2.48 ERA _ since the beginning of his Cy Young
Award season of 2007 with Cleveland.

In his second outing since coming off the disabled list, the big
lefty was hurt by third baseman Jayson Nix’s fielding error in the
third inning that led to three unearned runs. Escobar’s eighth
homer in the sixth made it 5-4 and came after right fielder Andruw
Jones made a diving catch on Adam Lind’s liner but lost the ball as
he rolled over his glove. Jones tried to sell the catch by holding
up the ball _ flashing a sneaky grin _ but the umpires weren’t
buying it.

Toronto added a run on a squeeze play in the eighth with Jeff
Mathis batting and Escobar on third after he led off with his
second double.

Sabathia gave up at least five runs for the sixth time this
year. He struck out eight in seven innings.
“It’s definitely disappointing,” Sabathia said. “It’s all my
fault, obviously.”

Jones and Curtis Granderson drove in runs after Jeter led off
the first with a single and Nick Swisher walked. Granderson added a
two-run double in the third to give the Yankees a 4-3 lead after
Happ walked two and threw a wild pitch.

In the fourth he got himself in trouble again, starting off the
inning by walking Nix and giving up a double to Suzuki. With one
out, Happ gave Jeter an intentional free pass with Swisher, batting
.367 over his last 21 games, due up.

Happ struck out Swisher and Robinson Cano.
“It wanted to try to get ahead, try to stay with my
strengths,” Happ said about facing them.
Happ pitched a quick fifth and was done for the day, having
allowed four hits and four runs. He struck out six. It was Happ’s
second win against the Yankees since coming over in a trade with
Houston on July 20.

NOTES: The Ugandan Little League team, the first squad from
Africa to make it to the Little League World Series at
Williamsport, Pa., visited with the Yankees before the game. The
boys met Jeter and Mariano Rivera. They were given a clubhouse tour
by Girardi, including the players-only facilities, and watched
batting practice from the dugout. In the first innings, they also
helped the Bleacher Creatures do the “roll call” in the first
inning. … The Blue Jays play Tampa Bay. RHP Carlos Villanueva
(6-4) starts for Toronto on Thursday. LHP Matt Moore starts for the
Rays. … The Yankees have a day off then play the Orioles.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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