Yankees begin series up north with Blue Jays

The American League East-leading New York Yankees get back to work north of the border on Friday when they kick off a three-game set with the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Yankees rebounded to earn a split after losing the first two contests in a four-game series at Detroit. Eric Chavez, who has filled in nicely at third base since Alex Rodriguez went down with an injury, was the hero on Thursday, hitting a go-ahead solo homer in the eighth inning as New York hung on to beat the Tigers, 4-3.

The game was not without drama, however, as Rafael Soriano ran into some trouble in the ninth before nailing down his 27th save.

Mark Teixeira preceded Chavez's blast with a game-tying homer, his 21st of the season.

Chavez, a former All-Star in Oakland, had two hits and scored twice for the Yankees, giving him a .467 batting average (14-for-30) in his last nine games. He belted the game-winner against Joaquin Benoit, a pitcher he traditionally struggles with.

"My numbers aren't very good against him," Chavez said of facing Benoit. "In fact, they're pretty terrible. I was looking for a heater and I believe he left a changeup kind of up and away. I just saw it out of his hand."

The banged-up Blue Jays, who are starting a 10-game homestand on Friday, are coming in fresh off a disastrous 2-8 road trip, culminating with a three-game sweep at the hands of Tampa Bay.

The Rays' Jose Lobaton drove in three runs and Matt Moore tossed six strong innings, as Tampa Bay dispatched Toronto, 7-1, to finish the sweep on Thursday.

Henderson Alvarez (7-9) was tagged in defeat for 11 hits and six runs -- four earned -- over 4 2/3 frames for the Blue Jays, who stumbled to their ninth loss in 11 outings overall.

Toronto scored just four runs on 12 hits in the entire series in Tampa as it continues to toil without injured regulars Jose Bautista (wrist), Brett Lawrie (oblique) and Adam Lind (back).

Veteran right-hander Freddy Garcia will take the ball for the Yankees in the opener, hoping to halt New York's three-game losing streak in Toronto.

The crafty Garcia is coming off his 150th career major league win, the most ever for a Venezuelan-born player, when he allowed two runs over five innings in a 6-2 win over Seattle. The 35-year-old is 7-8 with a dismal 6.02 ERA all- time versus the Blue Jays, however.

Opposing Garcia will be lefty Ricky Romero, who had lost seven straight starts, until shutting down Oakland in a 3-1 win on Saturday. Romero is 3-5 lifetime against New York with a 5.37 ERA.

The Yankees have taken three of their five matchups versus the Jays so far this season, dropping two north of the border in mid-may, before rebounding to sweep a three-game series in the Bronx two months later.