" Hero: Johnny Damon led off the game with a home run and singled in the second for his 2,000th career hit.
" Unsung hero: Robinson Cano hit three doubles and went 4-for-4. It was the second baseman's sixth-career four-hit game.
" Did you see that?: In the top of the ninth Alex Rodriguez appeared to yell out "I got it" during an infield pop up, causing the Jays infielder to drop what would have been the third out of the inning.
" Quotable: "I just said, 'Hah!' That's it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't." -- A-Rod
-- ESPN.com news services
Yankees 10, Blue Jays 5
Rodriguez distracted Toronto third baseman Howie Clark by shouting at him on a key popup in the ninth inning, touching off arguments all over the field, and the Yankees beat the Blue Jays 10-5 Wednesday night.
"I just said, 'Hah!' That's it," Rodriguez said. "Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't."
It definitely worked in rankling the Blue Jays.
"The thing about the Yankees, one of the reasons they're so respected, is they do things right. Always have," manager John Gibbons said. "They've got a lot of pride and a lot of class. They play the game hard.
"That's not Yankee pride right there," he said. "That's not the way they play. I thought it was bush league."
Replays showed Rodriguez shouting something, and Clark backed off at the last second. McDonald was only a few steps behind Clark, but couldn't make the catch and ball dropped for an RBI single.
"I don't know what my intention was," Rodriguez said. "I didn't say, 'I got it' or anything like that."
Clark claimed Rodriguez called for the ball.
"I heard a 'Mine' call and so I let it go," Clark said. "It wasn't Johnny Mac. What do you do? It makes you mad."
After the play, McDonald started jawing with Rodriguez, and third base umpire Chad Fairchild got between them.
Gibbons came out to argue, and exchanged words with Rodriguez and third base coach Larry Bowa before leaving the field as plate umpire Eric Cooper intervened. Rodriguez stayed on the bag with a smirk.
Giambi followed with a two-run single. When the game ended, many of the Blue Jays stayed on the bench, staring at Rodriguez and the Yankees.
Rodriguez brushed aside the Blue Jays' anger, saying the Yankees were "desperate" for a win.
"Honestly, I couldn't care less," he said. "They have their opinions. We're looking not to be swept."
Clark said he'd never seen -- or heard -- that play before. "This is my 16th season and it's never happened once," he said.
Rodriguez said he's often heckled by opposing players.
"That play happens to me three or four times a week, except it's not at third base, it's over in foul territory by the dugout," Rodriguez said.
The Yankees didn't quite know what to think.
"I wasn't sure that was allowed," outfielder Johnny Damon said. "If it is, maybe we'll keep on doing it."
Said manager Joe Torre: "I don't know what to feel for it. It's not like he said, 'I got it.'"
It certainly was an adventuresome day for Rodriguez. He made the cover of the New York Post on Wednesday -- and not because of the Yankees' slump.
"STRAY-ROD" blared the Page 1 headline across a picture of A-Rod and an unidentified woman in Toronto earlier this week. "Alex hits strip club with mystery blonde," it continued.
"Absolutely no comment about anything personal and I certainly don't think this will be a distraction to our team," he said before Wednesday's win.
Rodriguez has been in the middle of an unusual, on-field dispute before. In Game 6 of the 2004 AL championship series, he slapped the ball from Boston pitcher Bronson Arroyo's glove, and was called out for interference.
Damon led off this game with a home run for the Yankees, who avoided falling nine games under .500 for the first time since they were 20-29 after play on June 20, 1995, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Robinson Cano hit three doubles and went 4-for-4 for the Yankees. Down 13 1/2 games to Boston in the AL East, New York starts a three-game series Friday night at Fenway Park.
Pitching for the first time since May 26, Mariano Rivera recorded the final four outs for his fourth save in six chances.
New York took a quick lead against rookie Jesse Litsch (1-2), scoring five times in the first inning. Damon opened the game with his 22nd career leadoff homer.
Making just his fourth major league start, Litsch allowed a season-high five runs on four hits.
Damon singled in the second for his 2,000th career hit.
"I'm very proud," Damon said. "We'll see how far I can take it."
Rookie Tyler Clippard (2-1) gave up three runs and four hits over five innings. He struck out three and walked five, but none of the walks came around to score.
Rios homered in the third. Toronto then loaded the bases with two outs but Clark flied out.
McDonald homered in the fourth and Stairs hit a two-run shot off reliever Brian Bruney in the seventh.
It was the first time Bruney had given up a run since April 23 at Tampa Bay. He had pitched 13 2/3 scoreless innings since.
The Yankees and Toronto next play in mid-July. ... Jeter finished 0-4 with three strikeouts. ... Reliever Brian Wolfe made his major league debut in the ninth, making him the 500th player in Blue Jays history.