CLEVELAND (AP) – The New York Yankees needed something positive to happen before they headed to Toronto for an important three-game series.
As it turned out, several positive things happened, most notably the end of a five-game losing streak, in Thursday night’s 8-6 win over the Cleveland Indians.
New York remained a half-game behind AL East-leading Toronto, which has won 11 in a row. The teams begin their series Friday night, a week after the Blue Jays swept three games at Yankee Stadium.
“They’ve been playing great baseball,” designated hitter Alex Rodriguez said. “We just won a game. It’s going to make for a great series.”
Brian McCann hit a three-run homer and Stephen Drew also connected. Limited to a total of six runs during their skid, the Yankees shook loose as McCann hit one out in the first inning. Drew hit a solo homer in the second, his 15th of the season, added an RBI double in the fourth and wound up scoring a career-high four runs.
While it’s still mid-August, the series, which sold out a week ago, will have a postseason feel.
“This is what you put in all the hours in for,” McCann said. “This is fun and it’s going to be a competitive race.”
Brett Gardner got three hits and drove in three runs for New York.
Nathan Eovaldi (12-2) won his seventh straight decision, allowing four runs in 5 1/3 innings. The right-hander hasn’t lost since June 16, a span of 10 starts.
Andrew Miller, who blew his first save of the season Tuesday, allowed a run in the ninth on Carlos Santana’s single but struck out Abraham Almonte to end the game. Miller is 25 for 26 in save situations.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi admitted McCann’s home run couldn’t have come at a better time.
“It seemed like that was more runs than we scored in a week,” he said. “It changes the mood, obviously.”
Trevor Bauer (9-9) gave up six runs in 3 1/3 innings as Cleveland’s four-game winning streak ended.
The Indians rallied from a four-run deficit and cut the lead to 7-5 in the seventh when Dellin Betances threw a wild pitch with the bases loaded.
“We just ran out of innings,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “You see Betances and Andrew Miller coming and that’s no picnic. But we kept hitting and guys gave themselves a chance. Tough game to win.”
Jacoby Ellsbury, snapping an 0-for-19 skid, started the game with a single and Gardner walked. Bauer retired the next two hitters but fell behind McCann in the count 2-1. That prompted a visit by pitching coach Mickey Callaway, and McCann hit a towering drive to right on the next pitch.
The home run was McCann’s 20th of the season and second is as many nights.
First baseman Greg Bird, called up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, was 0 for 5 with two strikeouts in his major league debut. He started at first base as Mark Teixeira got the night off.
“This is a dream come true,” he said. “It’s about the playoffs and the race. I’m excited. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Bird, drafted in the fifth round in 2011, began the season at Double-A Trenton. He hit .301 at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Bird was told of his call-up late Wednesday night.
Yankees: RHP Michael Pineda (sore forearm) will begin a minor league rehab assignment at Double-A Trenton on Sunday. He reported no issues after throwing a bullpen session Thursday.
Indians: LHP T.J. House (sore shoulder) was placed on the 15-day disabled list. Cleveland rescinded the May 21 option of sending him to Triple-A Columbus. House was 0-4 with a 13.15 ERA in four starts with the Indians.
Yankees: RHP Ivan Nova (4-4, 3.52 ERA) starts in Toronto against LHP David Price (11-4, 2.35 ERA). Price is 2-0 with an 0.60 ERA in two starts since joining Toronto.
Indians: RHP Corey Kluber (7-12, 3.46 ERA) starts in Minnesota against RHP Trevor May (8-7, 4.09 ERA).