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Hafner drives in four as Sabathia, Yankees beat Blue Jays

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The Canadian Press
4/27/2013 8:17:13 PM
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NEW YORK -- Hitting key home runs, that comes naturally to Travis Hafner. Legging out clutch triples, now that's a new trick.

Hafner launched a three-run homer, then lumbered around the bases for a go-ahead triple in the seventh inning that sent CC Sabathia and the New York Yankees over the Toronto Blue Jays 5-4 Saturday.

"The big fella can run a little bit, he's still got it in him," teammate Joba Chamberlain kidded.

It was 4-all when Hafner came up with two outs and a runner on third in the seventh.

The slugging designated hitter sent a high drive that ticked off centre fielder Rajai Davis' glove as he approached the padded wall. Davis bumped into the fence, the ball rolled away and the 35-year-old Hafner kept running, pulling in standing up.

"I don't think triple very often," he said with a smile. "Usually something like that has to happen for me to get to third."

Hafner exhaled as he stood on the bag. Captain Derek Jeter, one of several injured Yankees, laughed along with Hafner and his teammates from the dugout.

Hafner's summation on his exciting trip around the bases: "Probably tiring," he said.

This was Hafner's third triple in the last six seasons -- the other two came last year with Cleveland. It was his 13th triple in 3,851 major league at-bats.

"Unbelievable," said Sabathia, Hafner's teammate with the Indians and Yankees.

Vernon Wells delivered another key hit against his former team as the Yankees beat Toronto for the third straight day. With Mariano Rivera getting a day off to rest, Chamberlain worked around a pair of one-out singles in the ninth for his first save since 2010.

"It was really nice to get out there," Chamberlain said.

Jose Bautista and Brett Lawrie homered for the Blue Jays, who dropped to 1-5 on their seven-game road trip.

"You know what, right now we're not good enough. It's that simple," Toronto manager John Gibbons said.

"It's frustrating. I'm giving you guys the same comments every stinking day and I'm getting a little bit tired of it," he said. "I've got no answers."

Hafner wiped out a 3-0 deficit with his sixth home run, a long drive to centre field in the fourth off J.A. Happ. A few innings later, he delivered again.

A double by Robinson Cano and an RBI single by Wells evened it in the seventh against Esmil Rogers (1-2). Toronto brought in lefty reliever Brett Cecil to face the lefty-swinging Hafner with two outs and Wells on third.

Hafner's homer was his first against a lefty since last July 13 off Toronto's Ricky Romero. Hafner rarely plays against lefties, but manager Joe Girardi played a hunch.

"I just thought today was a good day to do it and he made it work," Girardi said.

Sabathia (4-2) allowed three earned runs and nine hits in eight innings. He walked none, struck out four and improved to 14-4 overall against Toronto.

Bautista hit his seventh home run, a leadoff drive in the fourth. He had been 1 for 20 lifetime against Sabathia with eight strikeouts before connecting.

The Blue Jays scored another run in the fourth. Edwin Encarnacion tagged up at third on Lawrie's fly ball to right fielder Ichiro Suzuki, and was safe at the plate when catcher Chris Stewart dropped the ball while making the tag for an error.

Bautista nearly homered again in the eighth, but centre fielder Brett Gardner caught his fly at the top of the wall.

A day after Toronto pitchers walked a majors-high 10 this season, Happ's control doomed him. He walked Wells and Kevin Youkilis to open the fourth and Hafner followed with his home run.

Lawrie put Toronto ahead when he homered to begin the sixth. Lawrie started the season on the disabled list and hit his first homer of the season Thursday night at Yankee Stadium.

NOTES: Rivera had pitched the previous two days and manager Joe Girardi wanted to rest baseball's career saves leader. ... Youkilis returned to the lineup after missing six games because of tightness in his lower back. ... Hafner had managed just a single in eight at-bats against lefties this year before homering off Happ. Hafner homered and tripled in the same game for the fourth time in his career. ... Blue Jays RHP R.A. Dickey (2-3, 4.66 ERA) was set to pitch Sunday vs. RHP Phil Hughes (0-2, 5.14). Dickey won the NL Cy Young Award last year with the Mets, and might draw some crosstown fans for his start at Yankee Stadium. ... Blue Jays DH-1B Adam Lind is expected to come off the paternity list Sunday.

Travis Hafner (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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