Rivera on hold at 600 as Yanks lose to Jays 5-4

Associated Press
New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera sits in the bullpen during seventh inning MLB baseball game action against the Toronto Blue Jays in Toronto, Friday, Sept. 16, 2011. The Blue Jays defeated the Yankees 5-4. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darren Calabrese)

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New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera sits in the bullpen during seventh inning MLB baseball game action …

TORONTO (AP) — With October drawing near, CC Sabathia is struggling.

Sabathia failed to hold a fifth-inning lead and Jose Molina's single in the ninth lifted the Toronto Blue Jays over the Yankees 5-4 Friday night that kept Mariano Rivera on hold at 600 saves.

"They made him work tonight," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I didn't think his command was as good as it has been. He had some really good innings and then he had some innings where he struggled."

New York lost its second straight game on the last at-bat since Rivera got his 600th save Tuesday at Seattle, moving within one of Trevor Hoffman's career record.

The Yankees, whose AL East lead over second-place Boston was cut to 3 1-2 games, lost for the sixth time in nine games and dropped to 3-5 on a 10-game trip that concludes with weekend games at Toronto. New York then returns to Yankee Stadium for a homestand that originally was five games but has swelled to eight because of rainouts.

Sabathia won seven straight starts and nine of 10 from June 14 to Aug. 1. He's 3-3 with a 4.56 ERA in eight starts since.

"My arm feels good, my body feels good," Sabathia said. "It's just been not executing pitches when I need to."

This is just the second time this season the Sabathia has gone two starts without a win. He also did it Aug. 6 and 12.

"Command has been a big issue, but my stuff has been there," he said. "That's what's so frustrating."

Sabathia failed to earn his 20th win for the second straight start. The Yankees ace needed 120 pitches to get through 5 2-3 innings and matched season-highs by allowing 10 hits and walking four.

"I still think CC is going to run off some good starts, I really do," Girardi said. "He just hasn't been quite as sharp. He went late into a lot of games for us. His innings have piled up."

Ahead 3-1, Sabathia allowed a three-run double to Adam Lind in the fifth. Nick Swisher's RBI single tied it in the sixth, but Lind doubled off Boone Logan (5-3) leading off the ninth. Molina, who played for the Yankees from 2007-09, singled with one out off Cory Wade.

"I thought when we got the 3-1 lead we were going to win that game," Girardi said. "Jose got a pitch up in the zone and didn't miss it."

Lind came in batting .178 (13 for 73) in his past 18 games, but left feeling good about his big double off Sabathia.

"You couldn't do it against a better team or a better pitcher," Lind said.

Casey Janssen (5-0) pitched two scoreless innings as Toronto won for the fourth time in five games.

"We didn't miss pitches when they were on the plate," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said.

Jose Bautista, 0 for 19 against Sabathia coming in, singled in the first to put runners at the corners, and Edwin Encarnacion hit into a run-scoring forceout.

Swisher's RBI double and Eric Chavez's second homer of the season, a two-run drive, put the Yankees ahead 3-1 in the third against Dustin McGowan.

McGowan started in place of Brett Cecil, scratched because of a cut left index finger sustained while cleaning a blender Wednesday. McGowan allowed three runs and three hits in a season-high five innings.

"Tonight was the sharpest of the three outings he's had," Farrell said.

NOTES: Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez (left thumb) missed his sixth straight game but was expected to return to the lineup Saturday. ... Toronto has won six straight one-run games. ... Cecil is to start Tuesday against the Los Angeles Angels. ... Sabathia made his 100th regular-season appearance with New York. ... Yankees manager Joe Girardi said C Francisco Cervelli is still bothered by concussion-like symptoms stemming from a Sept. 8 collision with Baltimore's Nick Markakis. Cervelli, who is not traveling with the team, saw a neurologist Friday and will undergo more tests next week. ... Toronto OF Colby Rasmus returned to the lineup for the first time since injuring his right wrist on Aug. 23. ... Blue Jays SS Yunel Escobar (bruised left elbow) missed his fourth straight game. ... The retractable roof at Rogers Centre was open during batting practice but began to close during the first inning.

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