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NYY@BAL: Garcia hurls six frames of two-run ball

From one veteran to another, the Yankees are hoping Freddy Garcia can bridge a gap to Mariano Rivera on Sunday to not only secure a series win in Toronto, but also move one step closer to the playoffs and etch their closer's name in the record books.

The Yankees, who have split the first two games of the series against the Blue Jays this weekend at Rogers Centre, avoided losing three consecutive road games for what would have been the fourth time this season. Toronto, still, has won 10 of the last 17 against the Yankees north of the border.

But, as far as the big picture is concerned, Sunday's game is about the Yankees attempting to trim their playoff magic number of four (their number to clinch the American League East is at eight) and potentially getting Rivera his record 602nd career save. With one more, he will break a tie with Trevor Hoffman and sit alone atop baseball's all-time list.

Garcia will start for the Bronx Bombers in the series finale Sunday, searching for his 12th win of the season.

The right-hander has been dependable this year, working out of the Yankees' unconventional six-man rotation that Garcia admits has been challenging at times.

"You want to pitch every five days, man," Garcia said. "You get used to pitching every five days. It's too long. Seven days, it's a long time. But, you know, that's the way it is right now. You have to deal with that."

The Blue Jays will counter with Brandon Morrow, who has struggled over his last five starts. The right-hander allowed seven runs on seven hits and a walk in 5 1/3 innings in his last outing, against the Red Sox.

"It's just been a rough stretch that's kind of been wearing on me, I guess," Morrow said after that start, "but every five days I can go out there and feel good. I feel like I'm going to break out of it on that day, and that's how I'll feel in five days."

Morrow is 3-2 with a 4.66 ERA in his career against New York, which is preparing to celebrate yet another major milestone after shortstop Derek Jeter notched his 3,000th career hit earlier in the year.

Rivera, 41, has been on a tear through the latter part of the season and has not blown a save since Aug. 7 against the Red Sox.

He has seven saves this month and five against the Blue Jays this year. In his career, he has 96 strikeouts in 96 1/3 innings against Toronto, while notching 48 saves.

Yankees: A-Rod returns, moves in lineup
• The Yanks welcomed Alex Rodriguez back to the lineup on Saturday in Toronto, but manager Joe Girardi slotted the third baseman into the fifth spot behind Robinson Cano.

Rodriguez, who has been plagued by a sprained left thumb, has cleanup in 87 of his 91 games this year. Saturday was the first time this season he hit fifth, and he responded by going 2-for-4 with a three-run homer.

• Right fielder Nick Swisher is batting .300 (10-for-30) at Rogers Centre this season and has hit safely in 11 of his last 12 games in Toronto dating back to last August.

He's hitting .320 (16-for-50) in those 12 games.

Blue Jays: Living life on the edge
• Toronto has been prone to excitement this season, notching 11 walk-off victories. Entering Saturday, the 11 walk-off wins was tied for second in the Majors behind the Giants (12). The Blue Jays have had 10 different players record a walk-off RBI, tops in baseball.

• Jose Bautista has reached base safely in 126 of his 138 games this season.

Worth noting
• The Yankees are in the midst of a stretch that includes 33 games over the final 32 days of the season from Aug. 28-Sept. 28. They've gone 13-8.

• Toronto is 6-11 against the Yankees this season (4-4 at home and 2-7 on the road), and has lost eight of 11 overall against New York.

• The Yanks are a Major League-best 40-11 in day games. Comments