Jesse Litsch pitched into the eighth inning to win his second straight start, leading the Toronto Blue Jays to a 4-1 victory over the New York Yankees in the finale of a four-game series.
Curtis Thigpen, Hector Luna and John McDonald drove in runs during the second inning for the Blue Jays, who snapped a two-game skid and gained a split of the series.
"We're trying to win as many games as we can," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. "You always want to play good against these teams in playoff contention."
Litsch got the start in place of A.J. Burnett, who was pushed back a day to tend to a family matter. Litsch (7-9), after beating
"You have to give credit to the kid," Yankee manager Joe Torre said. "He threw a lot of strikes. He got a lot of easy outs."
Andy Pettitte (14-9) took the loss for
"I felt great, got two strikes on a lot of the guys and they battled 1/8against me3/8," said Pettitte.
The Blue Jays touched Pettitte for three runs in the second to grab an early lead. Aaron Hill singled with one out and Gregg Zaun drew a walk before Thigpen's double down the left field line knocked in a run. Luna then grounded to third to chase in another run and McDonald doubled over the head of Melky Cabrera in center field to make it 3-0.
Alex Rios doubled with one out in the third, advanced to third on a fly ball to right by Frank Thomas and scored when Derek Jeter failed to handle Hill's grounder to short.
"We scored enough early, but you never feel comfortable 1/8against this team3/8," Gibbons remarked.
The Yankees had a chance to score against Litsch in the home third when Doug Mientkiewicz doubled with one out and Cabrera reached on an error by Thigpen at first. Johnny Damon, though, tapped out to first and Jeter's drive to right-center field was tracked down by Matt Stairs.
"They have a great hitting ballclub," said Litsch. "My pitching coach told me to just pound the strike zone and if you give up runs, you give up runs. That's basically what I did."
Litsch also pitched out of trouble in the fourth. After Hideki Matsui doubled with two outs and Jorge Posada was hit by a pitch, Robinson Cano grounded out to second.
Jeter led off the Yankee sixth with a double, moved to third on a grounder to first by Bobby Abreu and scored on Alex Rodriguez's grounder to the right side of the mound. Matsui then singled, but Posada flied to left to end the inning.
Litsch set down the Yankees in order in the seventh before leaving the contest after Abreu doubled with two outs in the eighth. Rodriguez greeted Casey Janssen with an infield single to bring the tying run to the plate, but Matsui flied to left.
Janssen then worked a
"It's disappointing," said Pettitte. "You feel like you put yourself in real good position to maybe win the division. We're still in great shape. The goal here is to get to the playoffs."