TORONTO - Jose Bautista was upset when a pitch in the sixth inning came too close to his head. Two innings later, he found the best way to take his frustration out on the New York Yankees.
Bautista hit his second homer of the game, and his 40th of the season, with one out in the eighth to break a 2-2 tie as the Toronto Blue Jays defeated the Yankees 3-2.
Reliever Scott Downs (5-5) picked up the win. Kevin Gregg picked up his 28th save before 29,198 at Rogers Centre.
Almost overlooked was the stellar 12-strikeout performance over six innings by Brandon Morrow, who did not figure in the decision.
Bautista also hit a two-run homer in the third to put the Blue Jays ahead 2-1.
It was a pitch two innings before his game-winning homer that had Bautista upset with first-time major-league starter Ivan Nova. He felt that the pitch was too close to his head, and he let Nova know.
"I was kind of upset, I was just trying to see what kind of reaction I was going to get from him and I was surprised to see that he was pretty defiant and walking up towards me and flashing his hands up and started yelling," Bautista said. "That's when I felt that the pitch was intentional. I don't think that's a part of the game you really want to go through."
Both benches emptied, was quickly restored and plate umpire Jerry Meals warned both teams.
"It wasn't on purpose," Nova said. "I just throw the ball. I've got to pitch. I pitch inside, I can get a lot of outs. The pitch wasn't on purpose."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi acknowledged the pitch was high but didn't believe there was any intent to hit Bautista.
"It was upstairs. It was handled fine, Girardi said. "They gave the warnings. I don't think our guy is trying to hit him, but we're not going to let him be comfortable."
Bautista hit a fly out on the next pitch.
"If he had thrown at my foot at my leg or my back or something, it would have been a totally different attitude from my side," Bautista said. "The pitch was right at my head."
He wouldn't say what Nova yelled at him.
"I'd rather keep that between the lines," Bautista said. "I think that's part of the game you`ve got to respect."
Bautista became the first Blue Jay to hit 40 homers in season since Carlos Delgado hit 42 in 2003. He seemed to take satisfaction from his second trip around the bases.
"I don't think it was because it was No. 40, it was a tight game, pretty late. I knew that if we took the lead we needed three outs to win," Bautista said. "And given what had transpired out there, I enjoyed it pretty good."
Bautista is having by far the best season of his career in his first full year as a regular. It has brought up questions about the possibility of performance enhancing substances in one recent blog in the Toronto Star. Bautista said he had not read it but found out about it because he was asked.
"I could care less," he said when he was asked about the blog item after the game. "I'm part of the (testing) program just like any other ballplayer is and we're subject to testing all the time.... It's unfortunate when you talk without base. He's got no base to be talking. I don't know why my name was tied to it."
Neither Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston nor shortstop Yunel Escobar were around for the sixth-inning controversy. They were ejected in the fifth inning when Escobar argued balls and strikes.
Nova allowed six hits and two runs in 5 1/3 innings. He was removed after Vernon Wells beat out an infield hit.
Morrow allowed four hits and two runs in his six innings. Morrow appeared to have the velocity back that was missing last Tuesday in Oakland when he allowed two earned runs in four innings in a no-decision.
That was nine days after his one-hit, 17-strikeout win over the Tampa Bay Rays Aug. 8, when he lost a no-hitter with two out in the ninth.
He had three strikeouts in the first inning but also had a one-out walk to Nick Swisher and a two-out double to Robinson Cano that put New York into the lead.
The Blue Jays squandered a big chance in the bottom of the first against Nova, who was appearing in his third major-league game. Fred Lewis singled and took third on Escobar's double. Bautista walked to load the bases for Wells who hit a fly to shallow left. It turned into a double play when Lewis was thrown out trying to score by Brett Gardner.
The Blue Jays took the lead in third on Bautista's homer on a hanging curve. It followed an infield hit by Escobar that brought protests from Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira and Girardi.
It was the Blue Jays turn to argue after Escobar ended the fifth with a fly to left. Escobar was ejected between innings for arguing balls and strikes as he went out to his position and then so was Gaston, for the second time this season, after objecting to Meals. John McDonald took over at shortstop.
The Yankees had their turn again when Swisher started arguing a called third strike to start the sixth. Girardi came out to pry his right-fielder away from Meals. After Teixeira became Morrow's 11th strikeout victim of the game to make the second out of the sixth, Cano walked and scored on Jorge Posada's double to make the score 2-2.
Morrow caught Curtis Granderson looking for his 12th strikeout to end the sixth. Morrow has been much better at home this season, carrying a 7-1 record and a 2.83 earned-run average in 11 previous starts at Rogers Centre this season coming into Monday's game.
Notes: Derek Jeter was not in the starting lineup Monday. He was being given a day off until the ninth when he made the final out as a pinch-hitter. Eduardo Nunez started at shortstop... .Blue Jays third baseman Edwin Encarnacion was back in the starting lineup after missing the three games in Boston with a sore left wrist....Left-hander Ricky Romero was sent to his Toronto residence to recover from strep throat but is not expected to miss his next start...Dustin Moseley (3-2, 4.76 earned-run-average) will start for New York Tuesday against Marc Rzepczynski (1-1, 4.76 ERA)....Wednesday it will be Phil Hughes (15-5,3.90 ERA) against Brett Cecil (10-6, 3.90 ERA).