A timely balk by closer Jeremy Accardo helped the Yankees tie the game before Robinson Cano won it for New York in 10 innings, toppling the Jays on Tuesday, 3-2.
The Yankees brought the winning run around on Casey Janssen, who hit Alex Rodriguez and watched as A-Rod alertly moved up on a wild pitch. Hideki Matsui missed a game-winning home run by mere feet before striking out, but after Jorge Posada was intentionally walked, Cano stroked Janssen's next pitch down the left-field line to score A-Rod with a single to celebrate.
"Especially to come back in a game like that," Cano said, "to tie the game in the ninth and win it in the 10th ... It feels good with the opportunity, but it feels better to win the game."
Come-from-behind victories, long as much a staple of life at Yankee Stadium as (for better or for worse) the Cotton-Eye Joe videos and a dancing grounds crew, had been notably absent much of this season.
Tuesday's win was just the Yankees' third when trailing after eight innings. But of late, the Yankees seem to have regained their confident strut, winning six of their last seven and 10 of 13.
"I don't think we're the same club," manager Joe Torre said. "We just seem to be playing with something in mind right now."
Maybe so. It was little coincidence that Cano made mention of Boston's 9-3 loss at Fenway Park as he addressed reporters in a postgame scrum, and though an eight-game gap in the American League East suggests it's still too early to seriously scoreboard-watch, there's little harm in looking.
As Torre noted, "There's nothing really to do in that dugout between innings but look at the scoreboard."
The dual rallies revived the Yankees after Andy Pettitte and Toronto's Roy Halladay matched wits and grit for a combined 228 pitches in a classic pitching setup, delivering a one-run masterpiece to the eighth inning.
One poorly placed fastball from Kyle Farnsworth undid all the magic, spoiling Pettitte's sterling, sweaty 116-pitch performance. Farnsworth fired a pickoff throw down the right-field line and surrendered a run-scoring double to Toronto's Aaron Hill in a rough performance, scoring pinch-runner Howie Clark.
"We gave one away," Torre said, "and we were able to snatch it back."
The year has been shaky for Farnsworth, who is quickly losing favor in the Yankees' relief picture. While he is far from the only pitcher to struggle this season for New York, reliever Luis Vizcaino -- who whipped a scoreless 10th to pick up the victory- - has been far more effective of late.
It's not unthinkable that Vizcaino could threaten to assume eighth-inning duties from Farnsworth, who has been alternatingly unreliable and unavailable at times.
"We need to find a way to get him straightened out," Torre said. "He's very important for us."
With the Yankees down a run heading to the ninth, Andy Phillips greeted Accardo with a single to left and pinch-runner Cairo stole second base. Melky Cabrera couldn't get a bunt down for the second strike, but then moved the runner anyway by ripping a single to right field, ticking off the glove of first baseman Lyle Overbay.
Alex Rios came up firing to home plate, though, and as Cairo tucked his head and chugged around third, obeying the frantic waves of coach Larry Bowa, the next thing Cairo saw was catcher Gregg Zaun putting up a great jarring block to impede the run from scoring.
Dazed after the play, Cairo trudged off and remained in to play defense, saying that he was "OK" even after driving a hard smack into Zaun's gear and frame.
"You can't be afraid to make a mistake," Cairo said. "You have to keep playing aggressively. That's the way we're playing now. We've got to keep playing like that."
The inning continued as, with Damon batting, Cabrera stole third uncontested. Damon then walked and, with Derek Jeter up, Accardo hesitated in his motion for a costly balk, sending Cabrera home.
Later, Torre would acknowledge Cabrera's enthusiasm and fearless nature on the basepaths, setting up the tying run by taking off on his own.
"He's got great baseball instincts, that kid," Torre said.
The extra-inning victory seemed unlikely given the entertaining matchup of Pettitte and Halladay, but it might have been even more surprising given Pettitte's early struggles with pitch counts and verbal lacerations from pitching coach Ron Guidry on the bench in the middle of his first three innings.
Pettitte allowed runners in all but one of his innings but racked up a season-high seven strikeouts, limiting the Jays to seven hits and three walks. Halladay was even more economical, retiring 13 of 14 batters after Jorge Posada's first-inning walk and holding New York to just five hits overall in a three-walk, six-strikeout effort.
"We needed this game desperately," Rodriguez said. "We knew that coming in, especially against Halladay. We realize how important every game is."
Between Halladay's dominance and Farnsworth's troubles, Pettitte never had a chance at what could have been just his sixth victory. Given his ERA (4.10), it's easy to say that the left-hander probably should have a few more.
But having the win on the scoreboard at the end of the night was enough for Pettitte, who still insisted jokingly hours after the fact that he'd felt good enough to head out for the eighth, even with an obtuse 116 pitches lit in white text on another center-field display.
"Right now, all of [the wins] are so big, because of the position we're in," Pettitte said. "We've lost so many of our share of them this year. It's nice to get these. We haven't been playing real well in close games, so it's nice to win a close game, for sure."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.