TORONTO — The Blue Jays are known for their powerful offense. On Sunday, they came up big with a dose of small ball.
Ezequiel Carrera drove in the tying run with a squeeze bunt in the ninth inning, Edwin Encarnacion hit a winning single and Toronto held its AL wild-card lead, rallying past the New York Yankees 4-3.
“Zeke, he can handle that bat with the best of them when it comes to bunting,” manager John Gibbons said.
Toronto leads Baltimore by 1½ games for the top AL wild-card spot. The Blue Jays have won a team-record eight straight at home against the Yankees.
After the Yankees scored twice in the ninth off closer Roberto Osuna (3-2) for a 3-2 lead, the Blue Jays bounced back.
Betances walked Melvin Upton Jr. to begin the bottom of the ninth and took third when Kevin Pillar singled off Tyler Clippard (3-6). Carrera followed with a squeeze bunt, and both runners advanced as Clippard’s attempted scoop sent the ball rolling past catcher Gary Sanchez toward the backstop.
“You’re always trying to bunt for a hit but my intention was just to move the runners,” Carrera said through a translator.
Clippard said he regretted trying to flip the ball to the plate.
“In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t flipped it because (Sanchez) wasn’t in a position to even have a chance to tag him,” Clippard said. “It was just a reactionary thing, trying to save a run.”
Clippard struck out Devon Travis before Josh Donaldson was intentionally walked to load the bases. Encarnacion’s slow roller between first and second scored the winning run.
“I just feel very happy because we knew we were down,” Encarnacion said through a translator. “I was just very happy to bring that win for the team.”
New York ended its 33-inning scoreless streak, but lost for the 11th time in 14 games. The Yankees are 5 1/2 games out of wild card spot
“Obviously we’ve been fighting, playing hard, and we’re just coming up short,” closer Dellin Betances said. “This is what you play for, to be in this position. We haven’t played the best the last week or so.
Toronto took a 2-1 lead on Jose Bautista’s RBI single off Betances in the eighth. The Yankees moved ahead in the ninth when Mason Williams singled home the tying run and Ronald Torreyes followed with a sacrifice fly.
Bautista finished 2 for 2 with two walks and two RBIs, and has reached safely in a season-best 32 straight games. His fourth-inning homer off Michael Pineda was his second in two games.
After being held scoreless in their previous three games, New York loaded the bases with one out in the second but Marco Estrada struck out Williams and got Torreyes to pop out.
Didi Gregorius ended New York’s scoreless streak by homering to begin the seventh. It was the first run for the Yankees since Donovan Solano’s two-run homer in the ninth inning of Wednesday’s win at Tampa Bay.
No AL team has gone scoreless in four games since the introduction of the designated hitter. The last to do it was the Washington Senators in September, 1964.
Toronto has won four of its past five one-run games. They’re 19-24 overall in such games.
Blue Jays starting pitchers have allowed two earned runs or fewer in 10 consecutive games, Toronto’s longest streak since April, 1984.
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Canada’s World Cup hockey team watched the game from a suite and received a standing ovation when they were shown on the stadium scoreboard. Canada beat Russia 5-3 on Saturday night to advance to the best-of-three final against Europe. Several Canadian players stopped by the Blue Jays clubhouse following the game.
Yankees: 3B Chase Headley (back) returned to the lineup after sitting out Saturday. … 2B Starlin Castro (right hamsting) and OF Aaron Hicks (right groin) were not available.
New York has yet to name a replacement for RHP Masahiro Tanaka (strained forearm) for Monday’s series finale, but Girardi said RHP Luis Severino (3-8, 5.70) is expected to get the assignment. LHP J.A. Happ (20-4, 3.28) starts for the Blue Jays. Happ has won three straight decisions.