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Jays avoid sweep with 8-4 win over Yankees

Toronto Blue Jays Brett Lawrie reacts at home plate after scoring on a single by Melky Cabrera off New York Yankees pitcher David Phelps during sixth inning AL baseball action in Toronto, Apr. 21, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Brett Lawrie doubled home two runs in a four-run sixth inning and J.P. Arencibia hit his seventh homer as the Toronto Blue Jays rallied with six straight runs to defeat the New York Yankees 8-4 on Sunday afternoon.

The win helped Toronto (8-11) avert a series sweep at the hands of the Yankees (10-7). And Lawrie’s heroics with the bat helped take the sting out of being involved in an 11th-inning fielding blunder that led to a New York win Saturday.

Watch highlights of the game courtesy of Sportsnet

Lawrie, a made-in-Canada bundle of energy, also shone at third base by stabbing a hard hit ball from catcher Chris Stewart in the eighth to trigger a double play.

The game was a sellout for the second straight day at the Rogers Centre, with 45,575 on hand to see the Jays show some fight — and offence. Toronto came into the game ranked 13th in the American League in hitting average (.225).

Veteran left-hander Darren Oliver came on in the ninth to close out the win as the Toronto bullpen held the Yankees scoreless in the final three and two-third innings.

Both teams managed 11 hits.

New York lost for just the third time in its last 12 outings. Toronto had lost five of its last seven.

Trailing 4-2 in the sixth inning, the Jays sent eight batters to the plate while having their way with three Yankees pitchers.

Left-hander Boone Logan (0-1) came in for starter Ivan Nova with Jays on second and third and no one out after an Adam Lind walk and Arencibia double. Colby Rasmus, hitting .143 against left-handers, drove in Lind with a broken bat single to cut the deficit to 4-3.

Lawrie then slammed a ball down the third-base line off right-hander David Phelps to drive home Arencibia and Rasmus for a 5-4 lead. With two outs, Cabrera singled in Lawrie to make it 6-4.

Arencibia hit a two-run homer in the seventh to pad the lead to 8-4. Lind had walked ahead of the catcher. It was Lind’s fourth walk on the day, tying a club record recorded 16 times by 12 different players.

Arencibia now has seven home runs and 28 strikeouts in a feast or famine start to the season.

Consecutive bases-loaded walks by Toronto starter Josh Johnson had gifted New York a 3-2 lead in the fifth

Johnson gave way to Brett Cecil (1-0) with Jayson Nix on third with no outs in the sixth after a single, wild pitch and sacrifice bunt. While the Jays were flubbing their fundamentals for much of the series, New York got it right by executing a sacrifice fly to score Nix and double its lead to 4-2.

Johnson yielded four runs on eight hits, struck out four and walked three in five and a third innings. His afternoon consisted of 93 pitches, including 57 strikes. Esmil Rogers followed Cecil.

Toronto first baseman Edwin Encarnacion went 0-for-4 with an RBI on his bobblehead giveaway day.

His trips to the plate included two long drives to left field with former Jay Vernon Wells making a dazzling play to rob him of an extra base hit in the third, climbing up the left-field fence to haul in Encarnacion’s drive before firing the ball back to double up Jose Bautista at first. Wells then tipped his cap to the booing fans.

His sore back better, Bautista shifted back to right field. That allowed manager John Gibbons to insert Lind at designated hitter while replacing Rajai Davis with shortstop Munenori Kawasaki in the leadoff position.

Kawasaki scored and drove in a run in the first two innings.

The Jays showed more offence out of the gate, opening both the first and second innings with two hits but managed only one run per innings to show for it. Toronto put men on base to open the first four innings.

The Yankees opened with hits in five of the first six inning with Stewart hitting a solo homer off the left-field foul screen to kick off the third and cut the lead to 2-1.

The Jays were the beneficiaries of some poor fielding in the first when Eduardo Nunez’s double play throw to first sailed over Lyle Overbay’s head. That allowed Kawasaki to score, putting Toronto ahead on the scoreboard for just the sixth time this season. The RBI went to Encarnacion.

Nova threw 32 pitches in the first inning, compared to 10 for Johnson.

Toronto made it 2-0 in the second, with Kawasaki’s sacrifice fly driving home Rasmus.

Stewart halved the lead with one swing of the bat in a third inning that saw six-foot-three, 240-pound Travis Hafner notch just the 10th stolen base of his 12-year major league career.

“Travis Hafner just stole a base. This is a real tweet,” said the Yankee’s official Twitter feed.

Johnson loaded the bases in the fifth after giving up three singles, walking Overbay on a 3-2 two-out pitch to send Stewart home and tie the game at 2-2. Johnson then walked Nunez on four pitches to score Robinson Cano and give the Yanks a 3-2 lead

Bautista exchanged words with home plate umpire Tim Timmons in the first after being called out on strikes.

The win will be a tonic to Gibbons, who has tired of the daily questions about what has caused his team’s poor start.

“I’m tired of that to be honest with you, (questions) about the start,” he told reporters prior to the game. “It’s no longer the start.”

But he said there was no need for player meetings or anything like that.

“I don’t think there’s any need for that,” he said. “They know what’s at stake, they’re all giving it their best. We just haven’t performed like we had hoped. That doesn’t mean we’re not going to.

“And to be honest we’ve run into some pretty good pitching along the way too. Let’s be fair.”