Yankees fall just short in Toronto
Bombers' bid for seventh straight win unsuccessful
TORONTO -- The Yankees' hopes for an undefeated road trip came to an end on its final day, as Toronto sent New York home on a down note, taking a 6-5 win at the Rogers Centre.
Jaret Wright took the loss, allowing four runs in 2 1/3 innings before being removed from the game with an elbow injury after being hit by a broken bat.
The Yankees missed out on an opportunity to gain ground on the Red Sox, who were beaten soundly by the A's at Fenway Park on Sunday. New York remains 1 1/2 games behind Boston with 14 games to play.
Cleveland's win over Kansas City also dropped the Yanks back a game in the Wild Card standings, as they now trail the Tribe by 1 1/2 games.
"I'm not concerned about letting one get away from Boston," said Alex Rodriguez. "We need to play our best baseball down the stretch. I'm concerned about what we do, not Cleveland or Boston.
"We expect to win every game, especially the way we're playing and the way we feel about ourselves," the third baseman added. "Today wasn't one of our better games."
Wright gave up one run in the first and three in the second, as the Blue Jays jumped out to a 4-0 lead on Vernon Wells' two-run single.
"He's still dealing with his command stuff," manager Joe Torre said. "His stuff is good, and we know he's got good insides. It's just a matter of trying to refine his control."
Ruben Sierra could have helped his pitcher's cause in the second, but he let Frank Menechino's fly ball land for a single, giving up on the ball early.
"It was too bright, so I didn't see the ball when it was hit," Sierra said. "I should have caught that ball if I had seen it from the beginning."
Rodriguez cut the lead in half in the third, drilling a two-run homer off the screen on the left-field foul pole. The homer was A-Rod's 44th, giving him the American League lead.
"I didn't think it was going to go out of the park," A-Rod said. "I thought it was going to stay fair, but hit the bottom of the wall. When it hit the pole, I was kind of surprised."
Eric Hinske led off the third with a broken-bat grounder to first, but it wasn't the ball that the Yankees were worried about. That's because the barrel of the bat flew toward the mound, hitting Wright on his right elbow.
"The ball was hit to first base, so I took a step over there," Wright said. "Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the bat, so I moved. It's the game; stuff happens. I don't look at anything as, 'Why me?' "
Wright, who was drilled in the neck by a line drive in Seattle on Sept. 1, tried throwing a few practice pitches off the mound, but was removed from the game with a bruise and abrasion on his elbow.
"Pitchers don't get hit that often, especially above the chest," Wright said. "A broken bat, in a situation where I have to cover first base, that takes me right into the path of the bat? It's definitely odd, but what are you going to do? You have to deal with it."
"It just didn't look like he was free," Torre said. "He didn't fight very much when I said, 'Give me the ball.' If he was feeling wonderful, he would have put up more of a fight."
Wright was unsure where the injury left him in terms of his next start.
"It's sore, tight and kind of throbbing," Wright said. "When you throw a ball, it's pretty much max effort on your arm in a game. If you've got something that's bruised or tight, it affects you more than being hit in the neck. I'm always optimistic to do whatever it takes to get back on the mound, but we'll see."
Al Leiter replaced Wright, allowing another run in the fifth, as Toronto boosted its lead to 5-2. That was the only hiccup for Leiter over his 3 2/3 innings.
Ted Lilly, who was 1-4 with a 6.09 ERA in eight career starts against his former team, retired 11 in a row after A-Rod's homer, getting the job done for Toronto.
The Yanks cut the lead to 5-3 in the seventh on Jorge Posada's RBI single, but Jason Frasor relieved Lilly with the tying runs on base and one out. Frasor got Bernie Williams to fly out to left, then struck out Robinson Cano to end the threat.
"Every year [the Yankees are] going to have a pretty potent lineup," Lilly said, "and I think I've run into them on a lot of days where I haven't been throwing the ball very well. Even today, I thought I threw the ball pretty well, and I still gave up three runs."
Derek Jeter sliced the Jays' lead to one run in the eighth, belting a solo shot to center against Justin Speier. After Speier walked Gary Sheffield with two outs, Scott Schoeneweis came in and retired Hideki Matsui, preserving the lead.
The Jays plated in important insurance run in the eighth, pushing the lead to two. It turned out to be the game-winner, as Miguel Batista allowed one run in the ninth on Cano's RBI double, but finally preserved the win for Toronto by striking out Jeter on a pitch the shortstop felt was inside.
"Up until the last out, we had a chance," Jeter said. "I don't think anyone on this team ever gives up. Today, it just didn't happen."
"You get spoiled when you feel as good as we do," Torre said. "They're not all going to be perfect, but we still had a chance to tie the ballgame in the last inning. I couldn't be more pleased, because we're not getting down."
The Yankees now return home for their final homestand of the regular season, hosting the Orioles for four games and the Blue Jays for three. With 14 games to go, New York faces an uphill climb to the playoffs, given the recent play of both Boston and Cleveland.
"We can't really worry about what other teams are doing," Jeter said. "If we go out and we win every game, we'll be where we want to be. We play Boston three more times, so we can't really worry about what they're doing.
"These guys are playing their tails off," Torre said. "If they keep playing hard, good things will happen."
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.