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Blue Jays 6, Yankees 0

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TORONTO -- The Toronto Blue Jays are certainly relishing their role as playoff spoilers.

The Jays (69-87) got seven shutout innings from Brandon Morrow (9-7) and got home runs by Brett Lawrie and J.P. Arencibia as they took the first game of a four-game series with the AL East-leading New York Yankees 6-0 Thursday.

It was welcome news for the idle Baltimore Orioles, who moved within a single game of the Yankees (90-66) in the battle for the division title.

Earlier in the week, the Jays helped out the Yankees by splitting a four-game series with Baltimore.

Lawrie got things started for Toronto with his 10th homer of the season, a two-run shot in the third. Edwin Encarnacion drove in two more runs in the fifth with a double to right. Toronto added its fifth run in the bottom of the seventh when Lawrie scored on a fielder's choice, giving Encarnacion his third RBI of the game and his 110th of the season.

Arencibia concluded Toronto's scoring with a solo homer to left in the bottom of the eighth off David Aardsma. The Yankees reliever, who has recovered from Tommy John surgery, was making his first major league appearance since 2010.

After Morrow's four-hit outing, Brad Lincoln and Darren Oliver throw one inning apiece to complete the shutout.

Ivan Nova (12-8) gave up four runs in 4 2/3 innings to take the loss.

The Yankees came close to tying the game in their next at-bat, but some fine defense foiled them.

After Robinson Cano singled, Nick Swisher hit a ball to the gap in left-center. Gose tracked the ball down to make the catch just before crashing into the wall, then launched a perfect throw to second baseman Kelly Johnson, who then caught Cano at first. Apparently thinking Swisher had an extra-base hit, Cano was rounding second when Gose made the catch and was thrown out trying to scramble back.

Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez, who bruised his left foot on a foul ball Tuesday and sat out Wednesday, returned to the lineup as the designated hitter. He went 0-for-2 with a walk and a hit by pitch. Rodriguez might be able to play third base Friday.

NOTES: Shortstop Yunel Escobar made his first start in Toronto since his suspension for wearing a homophobic slur on his eye black. He was greeted with a mixture of cheers and boos in his first plate appearance. Esobar went 0-for-4. ... In addition to this four-game series against the Blue Jays, the Yankees finish the season with three against Minnesota and three against Boston -- the three teams are a combined 63 games below .500. ... Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira (strained left calf) participated in a simulated game at Tampa, taking seven at-bats and playing an inning in the field, according to manager Joe Girardi. The team hopes Teixeira will be ready to rejoin the lineup before the end of the regular season. ... Hiroki Kuroda (14-11, 3.34 ERA) gets the start for the Yankees on Friday, while the Jays will counter with Chad Jenkins (0-2, 4.24 ERA).

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