You can never count the New York Yankees out of a game.
Not when you've got a lineup that's loaded from top to bottom and a bullpen that's anchored by one of the best closers in the game.
Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson homered to help New York come back from a five-run deficit and Mariano Rivera worked a perfect ninth in a 7-6 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon.
It was the 601st save of Rivera's career, moving him into a tie with Trevor Hoffman for the all-time lead.
“He's the standard by which all are compared,” Jays manager John Farrell said of the 41-year-old Rivera. “At his age, everyone always says you fight the clock, you fight father time.
“He's certainly defying it.”
Granderson put the Yankees ahead to stay with a two-run shot off reliever Carlos Villanueva (6-4) in the seventh inning. The Yankees slugger fought off seven foul balls before hitting his 40th homer of the season.
Four different New York relievers worked an inning apiece before Rivera came on to record his 42nd save in 47 opportunities.
“Mo is awesome, you just run out of things to say about him,” Rodriguez said. “Every save he's had in his career meant something and tonight was another example of that.”
Rivera's wife and two youngest sons were on hand to watch him tie the record.
“To me, it was normal,” Rivera said. “Just another ho-hum save.”
He could get a chance to break the record Sunday afternoon when the teams square off in the rubber game of the three-game series at Rogers Centre.
“(No.) 602 is the big one because it just puts the final stamp on it that he's the greatest closer of all time,” said Yankees manager Joe Girardi.
The victory moved the Yankees (91-59) four games up on second-place Boston in the American League East. New York has a game in hand on the Red Sox, who were home to Tampa Bay later Saturday.
Rodriguez put the Yankees within striking distance with a three-run shot off Jays starter Henderson Alvarez, who gave up nine hits and five earned runs over six innings. It was the 16th homer of the season for A-Rod, who returned to the lineup after missing six games with a sprained left thumb.
Reliever Aaron Laffey (3-2) picked up the victory. Mike McCoy drove in three runs for the Blue Jays, who fell to 76-75.
Toronto touched up New York starter Bartolo Colon with four runs in the second inning and led 6-1 at the game's midway point. Colon allowed seven hits and six earned runs over four innings.
It was Villanueva's first blown save of the season. Kyle Drabek threw two effective innings of relief, allowing one walk and striking out three.
Adam Lind, coming off a three-RBI performance in Friday's series opener, helped get the Jays on the board in the second inning.
He reached on a single, moved to third on a David Cooper single and scored on a double from Colby Rasmus, who ended an 0-for-19 skid with the hit.
Adam Loewen of Surrey, B.C., walked and Jose Molina's ground-rule double scored Rasmus and moved Loewen to third. McCoy used a sacrifice bunt to get the Canadian home and make it a 4-0 game.
New York got on the board in the fourth inning. Granderson walked, moved to third on a Mark Teixeira double and came across when Loewen dropped a fly ball at the warning track in left field.
The Yankees blew a chance to pull closer due to a baserunning gaffe.
With one out, Rasmus made a fine running catch on a Nick Swisher drive to the gap in right-centre field. The double play was completed when Cano thought the ball was going to drop and ran past Teixeira, who had started to break for home but ran back to third base to tag up.
“I think (Cano) thought the ball was going to drop for sure,” Girardi said. “When (Swisher) hit it, I thought it was going to fall, too. Still, you've got to make sure.”
In the bottom half of the inning, Rasmus reached on a bunt and moved to second on a single by Brett Lawrie of Langley, B.C. Both runners scored on a McCoy double to right field, with the fleet-footed leadoff man moving to third on the throw home.
New York outhit Toronto 11-7. A decent crowd of 39,288 took in the game, which took two hours 50 minutes to play.
Notes: New York improved to 40-11 in day games this season. ... It was the 629th home run of A-Rod's career, moving him one shy of Ken Griffey Jr. for fifth place on the all-time list. He also moved into a tie with Eddie Collins for 14th place on the all-time runs scored list with 1,820. Rodriguez hit fifth in the batting order for the first time in over five years. ... Eric Thames replaced Loewen in left field in the eighth inning and J.P. Arencibia took over from Molina behind the plate. ... Brandon Morrow (9-11, 5.23 ERA) will get the start in the series finale Sunday against New York's Freddy Garcia (11-7, 3.71). ... Jose Bautista entered play leading the major leagues in home runs (42), walks (121), on-base percentage (.449) and slugging percentage (.629). ... This series is the final stop of a four-city, 10-game road trip for the Yankees. ... Toronto opens a four-game series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Monday. ... Defence Minister Peter MacKay was in attendance.
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