NEW YORK (AP) — Ichiro Suzuki is streaking, and so are the New York Yankees.
Suzuki homered to start a comeback, then hit a go-ahead, two-run double in a seven-run fourth inning capped by Nick Swisher's grand slam as the Yankees beat the Toronto Blue Jays 10-7 Thursday night to open a one-game AL East lead over idle Baltimore.
After struggling for much of the summer, the Yankees have won five in a row, their longest winning string since June 23-27.
"Having this momentum come at this point in the season, I think that's the Yankees," Suzuki said through a translator. "And I think that's what makes this team special."
Acquired from Seattle on July 23, Suzuki is hitting .321 since joining New York, including 9 for 12 with three doubles, a homer, four RBIs and four steals in the three-game sweep of the Blue Jays. He's batting .362 against lefties.
"Every time he comes up, the crowd gets electric," Swisher said.
Suzuki thinks he knows why.
"You could say that I'm surprised, but maybe when I was with the Mariners in right field, I did try and communicate with those fans in right field, maybe make some friends," he said.
While the Yankees have won seven of their last eight, so have the second-place Orioles. New York, which led the division by 10 games in mid-July, hosts Oakland this weekend while Baltimore is at Boston.
"When we go on these rolls a little bit, it just kind of feels like everyone just mellows out. It's real quiet in here. It's real chill. It's not as hectic," Swisher said.
New York was down 2-0 before Suzuki's solo home run in the third. He hooked a based-loaded double to right in the fourth on an 0-2 pitch, giving the Yankees a 3-2 lead and extending Suzuki's spurt to nine hits in 10 at-bats.
That chased starter Aaron Laffey (3-6), and reliever Brad Lincoln loaded the bases with a walk to Jayson Nix. Derek Jeter followed with an RBI single for a 14-game hitting streak, and Swisher sent a 96 mph fastball into the right-field seats for his seventh career slam and third this season.
"I feel that we're getting that inner confidence back that we lost there for a little bit," Swisher said. "Regardless of whatever the situation is, whatever team we're playing, we feel like we're going to go out there and get the job done."
Phil Hughes (16-12) won his third straight start, allowing four runs and four hits in five innings with nine strikeouts. Hughes struck out Kelly Johnson with the bases loaded to end the third, then tied a major league record in the fourth by striking out four batters: J.P. Arencibia, Adeiny Hechavarria, Anthony Gose and Brett Lawrie. Hechavarria reached on Russell Martin's passed ball.