Brett Gardner wasn't immune to the Yankees' recent flailing and, really, was as culpable as anyone.

The Yankees faltered at the plate - those 13 straight outs to end their 11-inning loss Friday, that 0-for-25 stretch with runners in scoring position entering the third inning Saturday- and Gardner was one of those showing the symptoms.

He was hitless in his previous nine at-bats going into his first plate appearance against Blue Jays lefthander Ricky Romero Saturday, and the Yankees already had squandered four shots with runners in scoring position through the first two innings.

So no, he wasn't immune. But the leftfielder, who is showing signs of having a breakout year, had a bit of a remedy in him, too.

Gardner started the sentence and tacked on a loud exclamation point in the third inning of the Yankees' 11-3 victory over Toronto at Yankee Stadium. His leadoff line-drive single to right ignited an 11-run inning, and his grand slam into the short porch in right produced an 8-2 lead as the Yankees busted out in loud fashion.

The Yankees went 5-for-7 with runners in scoring position in the frame, including a two-run double by Mark Teixeira and a three-run double by Alex Rodriguez that leftfielder John McDonald lost in the sun. They even had a run-producing groundout by Rodriguez.

Rut? What rut?

"We've been struggling lately," said Gardner, who teed off on a 3-and-2 pitch, an inside fastball. "I heard on TV earlier that we were oh-for-like-150 or whatever with runners in scoring position. We've gotten a couple guys on base and we haven't gotten them in . . . It was a pretty good moment."

It was his first career grand slam and his fourth home run of the year. Gardner had gone 0-for-6 with the bases loaded this year.

"I told someone, I don't think I've ever hit a grand slam before," Gardner said. "[Not] Little League, high school, college. I haven't hit many homers in my life."

He added: " don't worry about the numbers, about what I'm hitting or what I'm trying to hit."

They may be so, but his numbers are outstanding. He's hitting .316, with a .398 on-base percentage, and has hit more home runs this year than he had in his previous two seasons (three).

"He's got four now, so he's feeling pretty good about himself," joked Nick Swisher, who singled, walked and scored twice. "He's had a tremendous year. He's been grinding and battling. He really improved this year from last year and I couldn't be happier for him."

With that type of production out of the nine-hole and Derek Jeter leading off, the Yankees have "the opportunity to create runs without having to do a lot," manager Joe Girardi said. "If he gets on . . . he has a knack for scoring runs because of his speed, and it doesn't take a lot as far as hitting behind him to get him in."

Not that it was really an issue yesterday. Gardner scored easily from third on a double and trotted around the bases the second time around.

No worries, though, Gardner said. He may be hitting more aggressively, but "I'm not a home run hitter."

Tell that to the scoreboard.

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