- Associated Press - Thursday, April 9, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) - With a chance to ice a win for knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, the Toronto Blue Jays’ bullpen froze up.

Chase Headley hit a tiebreaking single that deflected off the wrist of reliever Brett Cecil, and the New York Yankees rallied for three runs in the eighth inning to beat Toronto 4-3 in chilly conditions Wednesday night.

“We imploded,” manager John Gibbons said. “Wind-blown hit, then we hit a couple of guys.”

Michael Pineda pitched six solid innings for the Yankees, who improved to 30-6 at home against the Blue Jays since May 24, 2011. Jacoby Ellsbury scored twice and reached base safely all four times up.

New York took advantage of mistakes by Toronto’s bullpen, fighting back from a two-run deficit for its first victory of the season after the 40-year-old Dickey tossed 6 1-3 effective innings.

“Shoot, he was great. Cold weather, drizzle to start things off, you never know how it’s going to be. But he was great,” Gibbons said. “We coughed it up.”

In front of New York’s smallest crowd for a home game in 11 years, Andrew Miller worked a perfect ninth in his Yankees debut for the second save of his career.

Toronto pushed its lead to 3-1 in the eighth when Jose Bautista scored on a throwing error by catcher Brian McCann. But the bullpen couldn’t hold it.

Pinch-hitter Chris Young opened the bottom half with a bloop double that eluded rookie second baseman Devon Travis. Ellsbury singled, and Aaron Loup (0-1) loaded the bases when he hit Brett Gardner with a pitch.

“It was a fastball in, and it got away,” Loup said.

Young scored on a wild pitch by Cecil, who forced in the tying run when he plunked McCann with a pitch. Headley then hit a one-hopper that caromed off Cecil’s right wrist and past shortstop to give the Yankees a 4-3 lead.

In retrospect, Gibbons and Cecil both thought it was probably a double-play ball if the pitcher didn’t touch it.

“I thought it was coming a little slower than it was,” Cecil said.

Dellin Betances (1-0) got the win.

Many players wore knit hats and hooded sweat shirts during batting practice, and the game began in a steady drizzle on a 44-degree night at a mostly empty Yankee Stadium. The announced crowd of 31,020 was New York’s smallest at home since Sept. 23, 2004, at the old ballpark across 161st street.

The rain soon stopped, but the wind picked up and the raw chill never dissipated.

Pitching in short sleeves, Pineda held the Blue Jays to two runs and six hits in six innings. He struck out six and walked one.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Toronto OF Michael Saunders (left knee) is set to begin a rehab assignment Thursday night with Class A Dunedin. Gibbons said Saunders is coming along quicker than he expected, but there’s no target date for his return and it won’t be this weekend in Baltimore.

SOFT LANDING

Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes said he “can’t wait” to play on the new turf in Toronto this season. Reyes, who has a history of leg injuries, said he was told the surface should be softer than the previous one, which he likened to playing on concrete. The Blue Jays play their home opener Monday night against Tampa Bay.

THE NEXT GENERATION

With the Yankees already ahead, Alex Rodriguez struck out looking with the bases loaded in the eighth against 20-year-old Roberto Osuna, who became the youngest pitcher in Blue Jays history.

The 39-year-old Rodriguez was the first major league hitter to face Osuna, who tossed the ball into the dugout as a keepsake. Rodriguez had already played in 17 big league games when Osuna was born.

“It’s not easy to do, freeze A-Rod with the bases juiced,” Dickey said.

SLOW START

Bautista is 0 for 8 with six strikeouts in two games.

UP NEXT

Blue Jays: Rookie LHP Daniel Norris gets his second major league start Thursday night. The 21-year-old from Tennessee received plenty of attention in spring training for his unusual, rustic lifestyle - he was living out of his 1978 Volkswagen van in a Wal-Mart parking lot and cooking on a portable stove. But the Blue Jays are hoping for big things on the mound from Norris, who led the minors in strikeouts per nine innings last year. “He can be overpowering,” Gibbons said. “He’s got a chance to be real good.” Norris made a relief appearance at Yankee Stadium last September and gave up a two-run homer to McCann.

Yankees: CC Sabathia, coming off knee surgery, makes his first start since May 2014 in the series finale. The 34-year-old lefty is 10-1 with a 2.81 ERA in his past 12 games against Toronto.

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