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Toronto Blue Jays' Jose Bautista (R) is congratulated by team mate Adam Lind after hitting a home run in the third inning against the New York Yankees in their American League MLB baseball game in Toronto August 23, 2010.


He was taken aback by unsubstantiated Internet reports suggesting steroid use might have something to do with his power surge and then angered when a rookie pitcher for the New York Yankees came in high and tight with a pitch that caused both benches to empty in the sixth inning.

So when Jose Bautista launched his game-winning home run to left field in the eighth inning that provided the Toronto Blue Jays (65-59) with a scrappy 3-2 victory over the Yankees (77-48) Monday night at Rogers Centre, his deliberate journey around the bases had added meaning.

"Given what had transpired earlier, I enjoyed it pretty good," said the Blue Jays right-fielder, who accounted for all three Toronto runs and increased his major league-leading home run total to 40 in the process.

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It was the first of a three-game set against a Yankees team that came to Toronto in a spot the Blue Jays aspire to be in coming years at this late juncture of the regular season - atop the American League East Division standing with baseball's best record.

In enjoying his sixth multi-home run game of the season and eighth of his career, it was a busy day for Bautista, who had to shrug off online reports suggesting his new-found power in 2010 must have something to do with steroid use.

"I haven't heard it once," Bautista responded evenly when asked for his reaction to the unfounded allegations. "Nobody's said anything to me and I don't see why they should. Baseball has a strict policy against those performance-enhancing whatever you want to call them."

Bautista cranked his first home run in the third inning off Ivan Nova, who was making his first major league start for the Yankees, a two-run shot that provided Toronto with a 2-1 lead.

In the sixth, with the game tied at 2-2, Bautista was leading off the inning and became angered when Nova fired a 0-1 pitch that came in head-high toward the outfielder, who had to hit the dirt to avoid getting cold-cocked.

After picking himself up, Bautista glared at the mound toward Nova, who was issued a warning from home plate umpire Jerry Meals.

Bautista then started to slowly make his way out toward the mound which caused both dugouts and bullpens to empty for a bit of a mild on-field melee.

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"I was just trying to see what kind of reaction I was going to get from him," Bautista said. "And I was surprised to see he was pretty defiant, he was walking up towards me, flashing his hands up and started yelling.

"That's when I felt the pitch was intentional."

Nova denied it was anything of the sort.

"It wasn't on purpose," Nova said. "I just throw the ball. I've got to pitch. I pitch inside, I can get a lot of outs. The pitch wasn't on purpose."

Regardless, a properly riled Bautista extracted his revenge in the eighth when he launched his second homer of the game to left field off New York reliever David Robertson to provide the Blue Jays with their winning margin.

Toronto manager Cito Gaston wasn't around to enjoy the outcome.

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He was ejected back in the top of the sixth inning after coming to the defence of shortstop Yunel Escobar, who was thrown out by Meals as the Blue Jays came onto the field to take up their defensive positions.

Gaston said he was uncertain what transpired between Escobar, who doesn't speak English, and the umpire to warrant the player's ejection.

"I don't think I've been kicked out of here too many times," Gaston said.


NOTES It was another solid start for Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Brandon Morrow, who earned a no-decision after exiting Monday's game against the New York Yankees with the score tied at 2-2 after six innings. Morrow allowed the two runs off just four hits, while striking out 12. … After tagging up, Jays runner Fred Lewis was thrown out at the plate by leftfielder Brett Gardner in the first inning. … The Yankees were minus a couple of their stars: third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who is on the disabled list with a sore calf muscle, and shortstop Derek Jeter, who was given the game off to rest, before coming in as a pinch-hitter for the ninth inning. "Seventeen days in a row, he's played," New York manager Joe Girardi said. "The man needs a day off." … The Blue Jays entered Monday's game with a 27-21 record against American League East division rivals. … Pitcher Ricky Romero (strep throat) was sent home to rest by Jays manager Cito Gaston before the game.

NEXT Tuesday, New York Yankees at Rogers Centre, 7:07 p.m. (EDT)

PROBABLE STARTERS Toronto LHP Marc Rzepczynski (1-1, 4.76 ERA) v. New York RHP Dustin Moseley (3-2, 4.76)

TV Rogers Sportsnet

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