Jeter’s 2-run homer leads Yankees over Blue Jays
TORONTO (AP)—With their postseason hopes dwindling by the day, the New York Yankees turned to two players they have counted on for more than a decade to deliver a much-needed win.
“They know what it takes, they’ve been there and they understand what we have to do,” manager Joe Girardi said of Jeter and Pettitte. “Those are two of the leaders in here and your leaders have to step up and that’s what they’re doing.”
Jeter and Pettitte have been teammates on four World Series champion teams since the Yankees’ streak of playoff appearances began in 1995.
“We’ve been around for a lot of things, good times, bad times,” Jeter said. “We understand there’s a sense of urgency but I think everyone understands that.”
New York entered Wednesday 11 games behind divison-leading Tampa Bay and 6 1/2 behind Boston in the wild-card race. The Yankees refuse to abandon hope of a 14th consecutive postseason berth.
“It’s our job to go out and try to prove people wrong,” Jeter said.
For Pettitte, any talk that New York’s run is already over provides extra motivation.
“You almost feel like nothing is insurmountable,” Pettitte said. “When people think you’re out, you almost want to prove them wrong more.”
Jeter’s homer in the fourth inning was his eighth of the season and 203rd of his career, moving him past Bill Dickey and into a tie with Roger Maris for 11th place on the Yankees’ all-time list.
He was 3-for-5 and is two hits shy of 2,500 for his career. He is batting .571 (16-for-27) over his past six games, including five multihit efforts.
“When we need him to come up clutch, he always does it,” Pettitte said of Jeter. “He’s a great leader on this team and he leads by example.”
Pettitte (13-9) had not won since beating Boston on July 26, losing twice and taking two no-decisions. He allowed one run and five hits in seven innings, walked none and struck out four. He set down 10 straight at one stretch and threw 83 pitches, including 62 strikes.
“I was hitting my spots and where sometimes I’m missing three or four inches inside, I was able to get that ball in there for strikes tonight and get some outs,” Pettitte said.
Girardi called Pettitte’s effort “spectacular.”
“His stuff was outstanding,” Girardi said. “He used all of his pitches. His curveball and changeup were great tonight,he had great location with his fastball and he kept them off balance. He got a lot of ground balls and gave us what we needed.”
Brian Bruney got the final six outs for the Yankees, who have won three of four after losing six of their previous seven.
Toronto rookie left-hander David Purcey (2-4) allowed five runs and seven hits in four innings. He walked two and struck out two.
“He had some trouble with his control and, with a team like the Yankees, you can’t do that,” Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said.
Purcey was in immediate trouble, giving up consecutive singles to Johnny Damon, Jeter and Bobby Abreu to begin the game. Alex Rodriguez flied out to shallow right, but Jason Giambi hit a sacrifice fly and Xavier Nady followed with an RBI single.
Alex Rios, whose 26-game hitting streak against the Yankees ended Tuesday, drove in Toronto’s only run with an RBI single in the sixth.
Damon, who dropped two routine fly balls in Tuesday’s 2-1 loss, shared a smile with left fielder Nady after catching Lyle Overbay’s fly ball in the seventh, his first and only chance of the night.
“In this game, every day is a constant battle,” Damon said. “Some days you can be real good, some days you can be OK, some days you can be terrible and yesterday I was terrible.”
Damon, who came in hitless in 11 at-bats, finished 2-for-4 with a walk.
Playing his second game since coming off the 15-day disabled list Tuesday, Yankees designated hitter Hideki Matsui went 1-for-4. He hit a one-out double in the eighth, but was caught off the base when Cano lined out to first for an inning-ending double play.
New York improved to 45-15 this season when scoring first. … Toronto failed to hit a home run for the first time in eight games. … RHP Carl Pavano, a candidate to start for New York on Saturday at Baltimore, threw a side session with Double-A Trenton Wednesday. … Sidney Ponson (3-2) of the Yankees faces Toronto’s Roy Halladay (14-9) in Thursday’s series finale.