The New York Yankees need a big effort from Phil Hughes on Sunday if they plan on maintaining at least a share of the American League East lead. For that to happen, though, Hughes will need to reverse his recent fortunes north of the border when the Yankees close out a four-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
New York lost sole possession of first place in the division on Saturday, as Rajai Davis went 3-for-4 with a solo home run and an RBI single, and Toronto held the Yankees scoreless after the first inning to earn a 3-2 victory.
The Yankees, who have lost two of the first three in this set, fell into a tie with Baltimore atop the AL East with four games remaining. The Orioles beat the Boston Red Sox, 4-3, Saturday night.
New York's magic number to clinch a playoff berth remains at two. After Sunday's series finale, the Yankees will host the Red Sox for their final three games of the regular season.
Blue Jays starter Ricky Romero exited after the third inning with a knee injury, and five Blue Jays relievers combined to allow only three hits and two walks to carry the club to its fourth win in six games.
Shawn Hill (1-0) hurled three hitless innings to earn the win.
"An outstanding job by the bullpen today," Blue Jays manager John Farrell commented. "Ricky was suffering from some discomfort in that left kneecap area, just above it, where the quadricep attaches to it."
Andy Pettitte (5-4), who tossed 11 scoreless frames in his previous two starts off the disabled list, surrendered three runs on five hits and three walks over 5 2/3 innings to take the loss.
"We had plenty of opportunities today to get some runs. We just didn't get it done," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Hughes, meanwhile, has lost both of his starts in Toronto this season and has allowed nine runs in 9 1/3 innings of those outings. He's 2-2 in five starts against them this season, but beat the Jays two starts ago, as he allowed four runs and struck out nine in five innings.
The 26-year-old right-hander had a three-start winning streak stopped on Tuesday against lowly Minnesota, which reached him for four runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings. He is 16-13 on the year with a 4.10 ERA.
"There are some games when you deserve to win and you don't, and some games when you don't deserve to win and you do," Hughes said afterward. "That's just kind of the way it goes. I've been a recipient of some run support, which is nice. It's nice to get wins, but it's better for a team to get wins, especially at a time when you really need them."
Toronto will counter with righty Henderson Alvarez, who is 9-14 with a 4.91 ERA. Alvarez lost for the seventh time in nine decisions on Monday in Baltimore, as he allowed four runs in 5 2/3 innings.
Alvarez lost to the Yankees two starts ago and is 0-1 i four starts against them with a 5.64 ERA.
New York has won 10 of 17 from the Jays this season.