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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, April 27, 2013 9:03 pm

Last-place Blue Jays lose 3rd in row to Yankees

By BEN WALKERAP Baseball Writer

A couple of baserunners stranded at the end. A pair of untimely walks. A fly ball that ticked off the center fielder's glove.

Once again, the Toronto Blue Jays did just enough to lose a close game.

The New York Yankees beat the last-place Blue Jays 5-4 Saturday, winning when Travis Hafner hit a three-run homer and later lumbered around the bases for a go-ahead triple in the seventh inning.

Toronto lost its season-high third in a row, all to the Yankees. At 9-16, with a team batting average of .229 and a club ERA of 4.50, the numbers are hardly adding up to what the revamped Blue Jays expected, even with star shortstop Jose Reyes on the disabled list.

"You know what, right now we're not good enough. It's that simple," manager John Gibbons said.

"It's frustrating. I'm giving you guys the same comments every stinking day and I'm getting a little bit tired of it," he said. "I've got no answers."

Jose Bautista and Brett Lawrie homered for the Blue Jays, who dropped to 1-5 on their seven-game road trip to Baltimore and New York. Each loss has been by one or two runs.

"There comes a time in every game where you've got to make a big pitch or you've got to get a big hit. That's eluded us all year long," Gibbons said.

"Every game we're in - I think that 16 of them have been decided by two or less runs. Part of the time has been defense, but there also comes a time where you've got to make a big pitch or you've got to get a big hit. It's that simple," he said.

Vernon Wells delivered another key hit against his former team. And with Mariano Rivera getting a day off to rest, Joba Chamberlain worked around a pair of one-out singles in the ninth for his first save since 2010.

A day after Toronto pitchers walked a majors-high 10 this season, J.A. Happ's control doomed him. He walked Wells and Kevin Youkilis to open the fourth and Hafner followed with his sixth home run that made it 3-all.

"It's something that can't happen," Happ said. "Maybe I was trying to overanalyze out there, set myself down to bring myself up, but we're well beyond that point. I've just got to figure it out quicker."

"It can't happen and I think that's the bottom line," he said.

Happ left after the sixth with a 4-3 lead. Still, he thought giving up three runs was too many.

"I thought I could do better than that. Every little bit helps. We're obviously struggling in these close games, it would have been nice," he said.

A double by Robinson Cano and an RBI single by Wells evened it in the seventh against Esmil Rogers (1-2). Toronto brought in lefty reliever Brett Cecil to face the lefty-swinging Hafner with two outs and Wells on third.

Hafner hit a high drive that ticked off center fielder Rajai Davis' glove as he approached the padded wall. The 35-year-old Hafner kept running and pulled into the third with a standup triple.

"I don't know if anybody catches it. Do you think anybody catches that ball?" Gibbons said.

Hafner exhaled as he stood on the bag. Captain Derek Jeter, one of several injured Yankees, laughed along with Hafner and his teammates from the dugout.

Hafner has hit three triples in the last six seasons - the other two came last year with Cleveland.

CC Sabathia (4-2) allowed three earned runs and nine hits in eight innings. He walked none, struck out four and improved to 14-4 overall against Toronto.

Bautista hit his seventh home run, a leadoff drive in the fourth. He had been 1 for 20 lifetime against Sabathia with eight strikeouts before connecting.

The Blue Jays scored another run in the fourth. Edwin Encarnacion tagged up at third on Lawrie's fly ball to right fielder Ichiro Suzuki, and was safe at the plate when catcher Chris Stewart dropped the ball while making the tag for an error.

Bautista nearly homered again in the eighth, but center fielder Brett Gardner caught his fly at the top of the wall.

Lawrie put Toronto ahead when he homered to begin the sixth. Lawrie started the season on the disabled list and hit his first homer of the season Thursday night at Yankee Stadium.

NOTES: Blue Jays RHP R.A. Dickey (2-3, 4.66 ERA) was set to pitch Sunday vs. RHP Phil Hughes (0-2, 5.14). Dickey won the NL Cy Young Award last year with the Mets, and might draw some crosstown fans for his start at Yankee Stadium. ... Blue Jays DH-1B Adam Lind is expected to come off the paternity list Sunday. ... Bautista has three hits over the last four games, all home runs.