NEW YORK — Toronto’s powerful bats forced extra innings. From there, the Blue Jays strolled to their largest AL East lead this season.

Chasen Shreve forced three runs in with bases-loaded walks in the 11th inning, and the Blue Jays rallied from a three-run deficit to beat the New York Yankees 9-5 Saturday in the opener of a doubleheader that could mark the final turning point in the AL East race.

“It was a huge win,” Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada said.

Toronto had just one hit in the 11th, an RBI single by Ben Revere, but sent 10 men to the plate as Bryan Mitchell and Shreve combined to walk five batters and hit another. Former Yankee Russell Martin, Josh Donaldson and Jose Baustisa got RBIs with free passes.

“If you get swept, I think that it becomes harder to win your division,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said before the first game. “It does not mean that it’s impossible.”

Bautista hit two of Toronto’s four home runs, including an eighth-inning drive off Dellin Betances that put the Blue Jays ahead 5-4 and increased Bautista’s season total to 35. Edwn Encarnacion and Revere also connected for the Blue Jays, who homered nine times in the first two games of the four-game series and boosted their major league-leading total to 201.

Toronto opened a 3 1/2-game division lead going into the second game and cannot be overtaken by the Yankees this weekend. The Blue Jays have won six straight at Yankee Stadium, where they lost 17 in a row from 2012-14.

Troy Tulowitzki, Toronto’s All-Star shortstop, left after a second-inning collision. Tulowitzki was hurt when centre fielder Kevin Pillar ran into him while they chased Didi Gregorius’ popup. Tulowitzki backpedaled into short centre, caught the ball and was hit from behind by Pillar. After transferring the ball to his right hand, Tulowitzki seemed to be stunned and fell to the field as the ball rolled away.

Tulowitzki was attended to by a trainer and walked off on his own, although with a limp. The Blue Jays said X-rays of his rib and chest were negative, and he was to have an additional scan.

“Just got hit in the back. Looked like he might of hyperextended it, but I don’t know what’s going on with him,” Estrada said.

Brett Gardner, Chase Headley and Alex Rodriguez homered against Estrada as the Yankees lost their fourth straight. Following the 4-hour, 32-minute opener, New York found itself just three games ahead of Texas for the AL’s first wild card, with Minnesota one game back of the Rangers.

After McCann’s tying single, Roberto Osuna escaped a bases-loaded, one-out threat by getting Headley to pop out and Greg Bird to ground to second baseman Cliff Pennington, who made a sliding stop on the outfield grass.

Andrew Miller, like Betances, pitching on four days’ rest, worked a perfect ninth and 10th. Mitchell (0-2) relieved to start the 11th. He loaded the bases with no outs on walks to Encarnacion and Chris Colabello around grazing Pennington on the lower left leg with a 1-2 pitch.

Dioner Navarro struck out, Shreve relieved, and Martin batted for Ryan Goins and walked on four straight pitches — the last bouncing past catcher John Ryan Murphy.

Toronto had three bases-loaded walks in an inning for the first time since Sept. 6, 2009, also against the Yankees, according to STATS.

Liam Hendricks (5-0), Toronto’s seventh pitcher, got the final out of the 10th but allowed Headley’s single and Bird’s double starting the 11th. Ryan Tepera, a 27-year-old rookie, got his first big league save.

Marcus Stroman was scheduled to start the second game for Toronto in his first big league appearance this year. Stroman tore a ligament in his left knee during a spring training drill on March 10. Ivan Nova (6-7) was slated to start for the Yankees.

Bautista’s fourth-inning homer to right was just the eighth opposite-field homer of his career, STATS said, and the first since last Sept. 14 at Yankee Stadium. He has 281 homers overall.

Revere’s homer was his first since Sept. 5 last year for Philadelphia at Washington.

Michael Pineda allowed three homers in a game for the first time since August 2011 and left after 5 1-3 innings, four runs and six hits.

“The last couple of innings, I (didn’t) have very good luck,” Pineda said. “This is a very good lineup.”

Estrada gave up four runs and six hits in six innings.

“It is a small ballpark,” he said. “I don’t mind giving up homers because I know it’s part of it.”


Blue Jays: Results of Tulowitzki’s MRI were not expected until Sunday.


Masahiro Tanaka (11-6) starts for the Yankees in Sunday’s series finale against R.A. Dickey (10-10).

Ronald Blum, The Associated Press