NEW YORK -- The blueprint of the Yankees' season was that the bullpen would be their strength, powerful enough to hold leads as long as the starting pitcher was able to get the game to the seventh inning.
A.J. Burnett was able to do just enough, and the relief corps took it the rest of the way, executing the plan perfectly as the Yankees nailed down a 5-4 victory over the Blue Jays on Saturday at Yankee Stadium.
"We've got guys here that do the job and are nasty out of the bullpen," said Burnett, who completed six innings and picked up his fourth win. "I think about going deeper into games. It didn't work out that way today, and they came in and did the job."
Protecting a one-run lead, Joba Chamberlain worked a clean seventh before Rafael Soriano pitched around a hit in a bounce-back eighth. Mariano Rivera allowed a two-out double in the ninth, but he recorded his ninth save in 11 chances.
"I have confidence, especially in the back of the bullpen," catcher Russell Martin said. "Everybody has done their job this year. We've had a couple of times where we've had some blunders, but for the most part, you're going to get quality out of your seventh-, eighth- and ninth-inning guys."
The outing helped put a close to Soriano's troublesome first month in pinstripes, coming out on top in his first appearance since serving up a game-deciding two-run homer to the White Sox's Paul Konerko on Tuesday.
"I said, this month is over today," said Soriano, who has a 7.15 ERA in 12 appearances. "I'll come back tomorrow and this month and see what happens."
The homer-happy Yankees were able to provide enough firepower even without their favorite weapon, playing small ball to chase Toronto's Kyle Drabek early.
Drabek lasted just 2 1/3 innings in his shortest Major League start and was rocked for five runs on seven hits.
"Going up against a guy like Drabek, who's got great stuff -- he's going to be great in the future -- we took advantage of some walks early in the game and obviously crucial hits were big for us," Nick Swisher said.
Martin punched home the first run with a second-inning RBI single, and Derek Jeter added a sacrifice fly to set up Curtis Granderson's run-scoring hit, part of a three-run second inning.
New York piled on for two more in the third inning, as Eric Chavez and Brett Gardner knocked in runs with opposite-field singles. Gardner's hit was their last of the afternoon, but the output would suffice.
"We did a lot of nice little things today and that's why we won," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I don't care how we get runs, as long as we get runs."
Burnett acknowledged that this was the type of game last season that would have seen him become unraveled to the point of no return, lacking a consistent curveball and feeling that his fastball was flat.
Instead, he battled and pocketed his ninth victory in 15 April starts as a Yankee.
"I'm not content right now. I know I can be better," Burnett said. "I will be better. It's just a matter of working in between [starts] and staying humble and not getting caught up in it."
Burnett allowed four runs in an 82-pitch outing, the first of which came after two batters, as Granderson struggled to find Rajai Davis' leadoff triple in the sun and Yunel Escobar followed with a run-scoring groundout.
Adam Lind connected for a third-inning sacrifice fly off Burnett, bringing home Escobar.
Mike McCoy slugged his first Major League homer in the fifth inning, a solo shot to left field, and David Cooper picked up his first big league RBI with a sixth-inning sacrifice fly.
"I think a lot of teams look at me as a guy who'd better get the breaking ball over," Burnett said. "That's what the Blue Jays did to me. They got quite a few hits, because I couldn't throw a breaking ball for a strike."
But Burnett evaded trouble in fairly big spots, striking out Jose Molina and McCoy with two men on to end the second inning. And he mixed up his timing just enough that he fired to first to catch Davis leaning for a pickoff in the fifth.
"I know they like to run," Burnett said. "I just tried to mix up my times a little bit. I picked over a time before and felt like he was going to take off. I guessed right."
The Blue Jays also ran themselves out of a threat in the sixth, as Burnett zipped a called third strike past Edwin Encarnacion and Juan Rivera was gunned down stealing third to complete a strike-'em-out, throw-'em-out double play.
"I loved it. It's an outstanding pitch by A.J., an outstanding throw by Russell," Girardi said. "As you go out there every day, you're not going to have your best stuff. You've got to find a way to get it done and that's what he did."