Ron Hassey’s three-run homer highlighted a six-unearned-run seventh inning Thursday night, enabling the New York Yankees to defeat the Toronto Blue Jays, 7-5, before 52,141 fans in the opener of a four-game series at Yankee Stadium.
The win enabled the Yankees to pull within 1 1/2 games of the Blue Jays in the American League East and snapped a four-game winning streak for the Blue Jays. The Yankees have the best home record in baseball, 51-17.
It was the 15th time this season that the Blue Jays have lost a game they were leading after six innings.
Ron Guidry (19-5), who leads the AL in wins, went eight innings, allowing 10 hits, striking out three and walking one to get the victory. Brian Fisher pitched the ninth for his 12th save.
Toronto starter Dave Stieb, who leads the league in earned-run average, took a 4-1 lead into the seventh. He had allowed just two hits. But two errors by shortstop Tony Fernandez helped the Yankees rally against Stieb and two relievers.
Stieb was charged with four runs, one earned. Reliever Gary Lavelle (4-7) took the loss.
“You all saw what happened,” Stieb said. “There’s not much to say.”
Stieb walked Willie Randolph with one out in the seventh. Bobby Meacham hit a potential double-play grounder to short, but Fernandez flipped the ball past second baseman Damaso Garcia for an error. Rickey Henderson then walked to load the bases.
Lavelle relieved, and Ken Griffey drove in Randolph with a fielder’s choice force-out. Don Mattingly singled to right, scoring Meacham from third, and Dennis Lamp relieved Lavelle.
Dave Winfield reached base on an infield single, and Hassey followed with his 12th home run of the year, a blast 10 rows deep into the right-field upper deck on a 2-0 pitch.
“We look like we’re asleep, but after the sixth inning, everything breaks loose,” New York Manager Billy Martin said. “You’ve got to watch a good team from the seventh inning on.”
Toronto took a 2-0 lead in the third on Ernie Whitt’s 16th home run of the season, a two-run shot to right, and extended its lead to 3-0 in the fourth on Jesse Barfield’s RBI single.
The Yankees makde it 3-1 in the fifth on Henderson’s RBI single, but Toronto added a run in the sixth for a 4-1 lead on Cecil Fielder’s sacrifice fly.
Tonight, New York’s Phil Niekro will try to win the 300th game of his career when he opposes Toronto’s Jim Clancy.
Chicago 4, Minnesota 2--Greg Walker hit a two-run triple to cap a three-run third inning, and Gene Nelson pitched a seven-hitter for 8 innings to lead the White Sox at Chicago.
Walker lined his triple to left-center off Gene Smithson (14-12) to score Harold Baines and Bryan Little.
Baltimore 3, Boston 1--Rookie Ken Dixon threw a six-hitter for 7 innings, and Floyd Rayford hit a two-run homer in the third as the Orioles beat the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
The homer, Rayford’s 12th of the season, followed John Shelby’s infield single off loser Al Nipper (8-11)and helped the Orioles salvage a split of the four-game series.