The New York Yankees haven't won back-to-back games in nearly two weeks, and their AL East lead has shrunk in the process.
Losing Mark Teixeira just adds to their problems.
New York was one out away from victory Monday before Rafael Soriano gave up a three-run homer to Colby Rasmus in the top of the ninth inning. Though Derek Jeter tied it with a solo shot in the bottom half, the Blue Jays went on to win 8-7 in 11 to snap their eight-game losing streak in the Bronx.
The Yankees (74-54) have dropped five of seven and haven't won two straight since taking the first three games of their series with Texas from Aug. 13-15. Their division lead is down to 3 1/2 over second-place Baltimore, which beat the White Sox on Monday.
Making matters worse, Teixeira strained his left calf and says he expects to miss at least a week, possibly two."He's been such a backbone to our lineup," said Nick Swisher , who homered Monday and is 8 for 17 over his last four games. "For a guy like that to be out of our lineup, that's a big deal."
New York hopes to get a boost from Hughes, who is 5-0 with a 1.67 ERA in his last six home starts.
Hughes (12-11, 4.15 ERA) hasn't been nearly as sharp on the road but pitched well Wednesday in Chicago, holding the White Sox to two runs and five hits in seven innings of a 2-1 loss.
The right-hander is 1-3 with a 5.24 ERA over his last four outings overall, including when he gave up a season high-tying seven runs in four innings of a 10-7 loss at Toronto on Aug. 12.
Hughes didn't earn a decision July 16 when he allowed two runs in seven innings of New York's 6-3 home win over the Blue Jays (57-70), who ended an eight-game road losing streak and seven-game overall skid Monday.
"These are those games, in the 11th inning on the road, you win it. Sometimes if they go the other way they can almost feel like two losses," manager John Farrell said.
Toronto has lost 21 of 27 to go from two games over .500 to 13 under in less than a month, but there are few things more baffling than the downfall of Romero (8-11, 5.63).
The left-hander hasn't won since June 22, dropping 10 straight decisions while compiling a 7.69 ERA in his last 11 starts.
Romero walked a career-worst eight and gave up seven hits while allowing five runs over 5 1-3 innings of a 5-3 loss to Detroit last Tuesday."I definitely haven't done my job this year," Romero said. "I'm going to continue to work hard and get ready for my next start. Just try to end on a good note - that's all I can do now. It's been a nightmare of a year."
Romero has lost to the Yankees twice during his slump, giving up six runs in six innings July 18 but holding New York to three runs in seven innings of a 10-4 home defeat Aug. 10.
He's dropped his last four starts versus New York with a 6.20 ERA.
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|August 27, 2012||Henderson Alvarez||Day-to-Day||Left game - left shin contusion|
|August 27, 2012||Aaron Laffey||Day-to-Day||Left game - left calf contusion|
|August 26, 2012||Jose Bautista||15-Day DL||Left wrist inflammation|
|August 23, 2012||David Cooper||15-Day DL||Upper back soreness|
|August 22, 2012||David Cooper||Day-to-Day||Left game - jammed neck|
|August 19, 2012||David Cooper||Day-to-Day||Lower back tightness|
|New York Yankees|
|August 27, 2012||Mark Teixeira||Day-to-Day||Strained left calf|
|August 22, 2012||Ivan Nova||15-Day DL||Right shoulder tightness|
|August 22, 2012||Ivan Nova||Day-to-Day||Right shoulder tightness|
|August 17, 2012||Mark Teixeira||Day-to-Day||Sore left wrist|
|August 09, 2012||CC Sabathia||15-Day DL||Left elbow soreness|
|August 09, 2012||CC Sabathia||15-Day DL||Left elbow soreness|
NEW YORK (AP) -- When Mariano talks, Rafael Soriano listens.
The career saves leader was watching when his fill-in gave up a three-run homer in the ninth inning of the Yankees' extra-inning loss Monday night and had some thoughts. So the injured star sought out Soriano when he visited the clubhouse Tuesday afternoon and gave him some advice.
"`Why you got to throw too many sliders, when you got a good fastball?"' Soriano said Rivera asked him. "I said, `Forget about last night and let me do something different."'
Soriano stuck to the new plan Tuesday and struck out two in the ninth, closing out a fine home start for Phil Hughes that sent New York to a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
Hughes (13-11) won his sixth consecutive decision at Yankee Stadium, allowing only Adeiny Hechavarria 's first major league homer in seven effective innings. Then he turned it over to David Robertson and Soriano to finish off the four-hitter.
Soriano was not available to reporters after he gave up the go-ahead homer Monday night to Colby Rasmus - on a slider. A day later, the reliever blamed the Yankees' public relations staff for not telling him the media wanted to talk to him. But he was ready at his locker after notching his 34th save in 37 chances, one of his best outings this season.
"The best day I had all year," Soriano said.
New York catcher Russell Martin said Soriano appeared to be pitching with "a little anger. He took it out the right way."
Nick Swisher had an RBI single in the third and Curtis Granderson hit a sacrifice fly in the fourth to help the Yankees to their fifth win in 12 games. They handed Ricky Romero (8-12) his 11th straight loss and beat him for the third time during his winless skid.
The left-hander has not won in 12 starts since June 22. The Blue Jays have provided little help, though, giving him just 17 runs of support in his last 10 starts.
"He was very sharp tonight," Toronto manager John Farrell said. "He was efficient and I think he benefited from a couple of extra days' rest."
Romero did rebound from a wild outing against Detroit in which he walked eight in 5 1-3 innings. This time, he walked two and yielded five hits and two runs in seven innings.
"I've been working hard all week, the guys, everyone has kind of been helping me out through this," Romero said. "I'm just going to build off of this."
With sluggers Mark Teixeira out after straining his left calf Monday and Alex Rodriguez sidelined since late July because of a broken hand, manager Joe Girardi put Yankees newcomer Steve Pearce in the No. 4 spot in the lineup because he has decent numbers against lefties. Pearce was acquired Monday from the Houston Astros for cash.
The designated hitter scored on Granderson's sacrifice fly after he had walked, advanced on a wild pitch and went to third on a groundout by Martin, batting fifth despite a .196 average coming in.
Pearce and Martin went a combined 0 for 5 with two strikeouts. But Swisher had his 21st RBI in 20 games since moving into the second spot in New York's lineup.
"We're a little banged up," Girardi said. "No one's going to feel sorry for us."
The Blue Jays dropped to 12-26 since Jose Bautista first went on the disabled list July 17 because of a left wrist injury. The three-time All-Star was activated Friday but went back on the DL two games later with the same problem. He will have season-ending surgery next week to stabilize a tendon and is expected to be ready for the start of spring training.
Hechavarria cut it to 2-1 in the fifth with a high fly that landed several rows back in short right field. Yankees fans often throw home run balls back on the field but not this time. During warmups for the bottom half, Blue Jays right fielder Moises Sierra was talking to fans in the area where the ball cleared the fence.
Toronto had a chance in the sixth, when Hughes walked the first two batters. But he got Adam Lind to hit a soaring fly that landed in Swisher's glove right in front of the 314-foot sign in the right-field corner. Robinson Cano then made a leaping grab of Yunel Escobar 's liner to second and threw to third to double up Rasmus.
"It's an incredible play," Girardi said. "I thought he had no chance at third."
NOTES: Hughes has lost his last five road starts and is 3-8 with a 5.03 ERA away from home. He is 10-3 with a 3.25 ERA at Yankee Stadium. ... Rodriguez took batting practice on the field for the first time since his injury. He also ran the bases and fielded grounders. "So far, so good," A-Rod said. Girardi said the slugger will do the same Wednesday and then the team will discuss a plan, which could include one or two rehab games. ... LHP Andy Pettitte (broken left ankle) threw on flat ground. Girardi hopes he'll have a bullpen session this weekend. ... Farrell said neither Henderson Alvarez nor Aaron Laffey would miss any time after being by batted balls Monday. Alvarez took a hard grounder off his left shin and Laffey was hit by a drive off his left calf. Both are day to day.