TORONTO - Welcome back, Derek Jeter and Hideki Matsui.
The two Yankees stars returned from nagging injuries and delivered key hits to lead CC Sabathia and New York past the Toronto Blue Jays 3-2 on Thursday night.
“You have to give our trainers Trainer of the Day for getting them back in there,” manager Joe Girardi joked.
Jeter tied it with an RBI single in the seventh inning, Matsui put New York ahead with a solo homer in the eighth and Mariano Rivera worked a perfect ninth for his seventh save in eight chances.
“You know I don’t like watching so it was good to get back out there,” Jeter said. “It’s been a couple of days. It’s a big win for us. We needed that one.”
Sabathia (3-3) allowed five hits in eight innings to win consecutive starts for the first time this season. He walked four, one intentional, and struck out five to help the Yankees take two of three from Toronto, the surprise leader in the AL East.
“I’m just trying to pound the strike zone, getting guys to swing early in the count, keeping the pitch count down and just trying to pick the team up,” Sabathia said.
Sabathia, who pitched a four-hit shutout at Baltimore last Saturday, improved to 8-3 in 11 career games against the Blue Jays.
“He pitched well against one of the best offenses in the league,” teammate Johnny Damon said.
Jeter and Matsui returned to the lineup after sitting out Wednesday night. Jeter missed two games with a sore right oblique and Matsui left Tuesday’s game after one at-bat with a tight right hamstring.
Matsui led off the eighth with a drive to right-center off left-hander Jesse Carlson (0-2), his fourth.
“When he’s swinging the bat well he can hit lefties or righties, it doesn’t make a difference,” Jeter said. “That was the difference in the game.”
Jeter finished 1 for 5 with an RBI and Matsui went 1 for 3 with a walk.
New York went 4-2 on its road trip and returned to .500 at 17-17 as it prepares to begin a nine-game homestand. The Yankees host Minnesota for a four-game series beginning Friday night, with Baltimore and Philadelphia to follow.
Alex Rodriguez, who came off the disabled list in Baltimore last Saturday, will get to play at the new Yankee Stadium for the first time.
“All the guys have been telling me about our new home,” Rodriguez said. “For me it’s like opening day all over again.”
Toronto lost a home series for the first time this season after winning four and splitting a two-game set with Cleveland.
Nick Swisher gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead with a bases-loaded walk in the first but Toronto tied it in the fourth. Sabathia had retired eight in a row when Alex Rios homered to center, his fourth.
ATLANTA (AP) - Matt Harvey pitched six hitless innings, John Buck homered and the New York Mets held off another Atlanta comeback, beating the Braves 4-3 Tuesday in the first game of a doubleheader.
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