Blue Jays 5, Yankees 4

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NEW YORK (AP)—Just two starts into his career with the New York Yankees, Esteban Loaiza’s spot in the rotation is in jeopardy.

Gabe Gross connected off Loaiza for his first major league home run, Josh Towers took a shutout into the seventh inning and the Toronto Blue Jays won in John Gibbons’ first game as manager, beating New York 5-4 Monday to stop a five-game losing streak.

“Everybody says the pressure, the pressure,” said Loaiza, acquired from the Chicago White Sox for Jose Contreras on July 31. “Wearing the Yankee uniform and the pinstripes I think is a little bit more heavy than just when you get traded from Pittsburgh to another team.”

Loaiza (9-6) allowed his 26th homer of the season, third in the AL behind Jamie Moyer (31) and Bartolo Colon (29). As soon as Gross’ two-run drive down the right-field line hit the top of the wall and bounced over in the sixth inning, giving Toronto a 5-0 lead, the crowd of 49,853 began booing Loaiza.

“They’re not playing the game. They don’t know what is going on,” Loaiza said. “I really don’t pay attention to fans that much until the end.”

He allowed five runs—four earned—and 10 hits over six innings after giving up five runs in six innings last week against Oakland. Following superb eight-innings starts by Kevin Brown, Javier Vazquez, Orlando Hernandez and Jon Lieber, and with Mike Mussina due to come off the disabled list in the next week or two, Loaiza is pitching to stay out of the bullpen.

His next start is in Seattle, where he makes his fourth attempt for career win No. 100.

“He’s going to start Saturday and we’ll see what we see,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said. “I know there’s a lot more there than we saw today.”

Only Brown, Mussina and Vazquez are certain to remain in the rotation.

“There are no guarantees,” Torre said. “We’re going to do what we think is going to work for us to start with, and then if something changes our mind, we’ll make adjustments.”

Loaiza’s fastball has been clocked at 91 mph, down 3-4 mph from when he went 21-9 last year, and his cutter also is down 1-2 mph. Pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre has been working with him to square his front shoulder toward the plate in his windup.

“It seemed like when he got in a little bit of trouble, he didn’t have the same aggressiveness maybe that he had from the windup,” Stottlemyre said. “But that’s a fairly normal thing.”

In Toronto’s first game since firing manager Carlos Tosca on Sunday and replacing him with Gibbons for the rest of the season, the last-place Blue Jays (48-64) won the finale of the four-game series.

Bernie Williams hit a two-run homer in the seventh off Towers, and Hideki Matsui added a two-run drive in the ninth off Jason Frasor. Jorge Posada then walked, but Frasor retired Williams on a flyout, threw a called third strike past John Olerud and got pinch-hitter Ruben Sierra to ground into a forceout, earning his 15th save in 16 chances.

“It was a lot of fun,” Gibbons said. “I’m not putting anything on wins and losses. I just want to see the team play better and build some momentum going into next season.”

Towers (7-4) won for the fifth time in six starts, giving up just three hits before Posada doubled in the seventh and Williams hit his 14th homer, his second in two days. Towers, who beat New York for the first time in four career decisions, allowed five hits in seven innings.

Toronto, which had 12 hits, took a 2-0 lead in the second when Chris Woodward hit an RBI single and scored from first when Reed Johnson singled to right, Kenny Lofton bobbled the ball for one error, and Enrique Wilson dropped the relay for a second error. Lofton made the first outfield start of his career in a position other than center.

“It’s a little different,” Lofton said. “You’ve got to think about which way the ball is cutting on you.”

Carlos Delgado’s sacrifice fly in the fifth and Gross’ homer boosted the score to 5-0.

New York, which had won five straight and eight of nine, headed to Texas for the start of a nine-game trip. The AL East leader will play 16 of its next 19 games on the road before returning home for 20 of its final 32.

“I think it’s the worst schedule in the nine years I’ve been here,” Torre said.


Gibbons was 3-0 last year as acting manager when Tosca attended his daughter’s college graduation and served a one-game suspension. The Elias Sports Bureau, baseball’s statistician, considered Monday’s game to be Gibbons’ official debut as a major league manager. He became the first visiting manager to make his debut at Yankee Stadium since Boston’s Butch Hobson in 1992 and the first in midseason since Billy Hitchcock was Detroit’s interim manager for one game in 1960. … Mussina’s rehabilitation start was moved to Wednesday at Triple-A Columbus instead of Tuesday at Class-A Tampa because rain was forecast in Florida.

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