NEW YORK -- Andy Pettitte gave New York a needed boost, and the bullpen held off a late charge from the Toronto Blue Jays, as the Yankees took Game 1 of Wednesday's day-night doubleheader.
Pettitte pitched five shutout innings in his first start since June 27, and the Yankees scored three runs in the first for a 4-2 win.
The victory put the Yankees up a half-game on the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East, pending Game 2 of the doubleheader and the Orioles' late game at the Seattle Mariners.
After carrying a 3-0 lead through seven innings, and savoring Pettitte's return from a fractured left ankle, the Yankees barely held on in the eighth. Toronto scored twice against reliever David Robertson and loaded the bases with two outs.
Rafael Soriano, who had walked No. 9 hitter Anthony Gose to load the bases, got Rajai Davis on a line drive that appeared as if it might hit left fielder Ichiro Suzuki in the chest, as he seemed in danger of over running it, before he made the catch, holding on tight as he fell to his knees.
The Yankees added an insurance run on Nick Swisher's two-out RBI single in the eighth, which followed Ichiro's double.
Soriano pitched a scoreless ninth for his 41st save of the season.
Pettitte (4-3) gave up four hits while walking two and striking out three. Expected to throw about 70 pitches, he left having thrown 75 after the fifth.
The Yankees gave him scored three times in the first as the first three batters reached with hits against Henderson Alvarez (9-13). Robinson Cano doubled in a run, Alex Rodriguez drove in the second with a groundout and Curtis Granderson capped the inning's scoring with a sacrifice fly.
Pettitte pitched out of a second-inning jam, with help from Swisher. With two on and two outs, the first-baseman beat Gose to the bag, sliding in ahead of him for the final out.
Alvarez shut out the Yankees for the next six innings, setting a career high with seven strikeouts. He allowed just two hits after the three-hit first.
Pettitte, who had pitched impressively after he came out of retirement, fought hard to return. He had to wait an extra day after Tuesday's rainout, but looked sharp Wednesday.
But Toronto nearly tainted the outing, rallying against Robertson in the eighth with a double by Brett Lawrie and singles by Adam Lind and pinch hitter Kelly Johnson, plating the first Toronto run. Robertson struck out Moises Sierra, but gave up a double to Omar Vizquel to make it 3-2. To add insult to injury, the hit was Vizquel's second of the game and moved him past Yankees icon Babe Ruth for 41st place on baseball's all-time hit list with 2,874.
Robertson struck out Adeiny Hechavarria, before Soriano walked Gose and got Davis to end the inning.
NOTES: Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter (bone bruise in his left ankle) was given Game 1 off. Manager Joe Girardi said he would see how Jeter handled fielding drills before Game 2 and then decide whether he'd return to the field or DH in the nightcap. ... Yankees' prospect Dellin Betances was promoted to the Yankees to be placed on the 60-day DL on Wednesday, to clear room on the 40-man roster for Pettitte. Betances, who went 6-9 with a 6.44 ERA for Class AA and Class AAA combined, had been shut down with shoulder inflammation. ... Edwin Encarnacion missed the first game of Wednesday's doubleheader with a toe injury. Adam Lind started at first base and Moises Sierra was the DH.