Bronx, NY – David Phelps threw four strong innings in relief of an ailing Ivan Nova, and the New York Yankees overcame another injury during the game to record a 6-4 decision over the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium.
Phelps (1-1) racked up a career-best nine strikeouts while limiting the Blue Jays to one run on two hits after taking over for Nova, who was removed with none out in the top of the third inning with pain in his right elbow. Mariano Rivera worked out a bases-loaded jam in the ninth to notch his eighth save of the season.
Lyle Overbay came through with a tie-breaking RBI triple in the fourth and Brett Gardner tacked on a solo homer later on to help New York post its second straight win over slumping Toronto in the first two tests of this four-game set. Vernon Wells added a pair of hits and an RBI in three at-bats to the triumph.
The victory came with a cost, however, as Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli fractured his right hand when being struck by a foul tip by Toronto's Rajai Davis, the game's leadoff hitter. The team said afterward that he will require surgery and is expected to be out for a minimum of six weeks.
"I don't think teams are going to care if we have injuries or not, they're going to want to beat us," said Wells. "So we need to continue to go about our business. and that's playing good defense, having great starting pitching and just scoring enough runs when we need them."
Nova was charged with two runs allowed on four hits in two-plus innings.
The Blue Jays suffered their 16th defeat in their last 19 visits to Yankee Stadium despite a pair of solo homers from Edwin Encarnacion. Jose Bautista also had a solo shot in the setback, Toronto's sixth in eight outings overall.
Brad Lincoln (0-1) was handed the loss after permitting two runs in one inning. Aaron Laffey, making an emergency start for an injured Josh Johnson, lasted just 2 2/3 frames and was reached for a pair of runs while walking five.
Nova departed following a consultation with the Yankee trainer that came after the righty surrendered a base hit to Davis which moved Munenori Kawasaki, who was hit by a pitch to begin the third, to third. Colby Rasmus then greeted Phelps with a looping base hit to right that snapped a 1-1 deadlock.
The Yankees drew even in their half of the frame with the aid of Laffey's control problems. The left-hander issued four walks during the inning, with the first three loading the bases before Wells delivered a game-tying sacrifice fly.
"I lost my release point and couldn't get out front and stay on top of the ball," said Laffey. "I was just kind of all over the place. It didn't matter what I did, I just wasn't able to get the ball where I wanted it to go."
Overbay's triple to the base of the center-field wall, which followed Lincoln hitting Eduardo Nunez with a fastball, put New York in front in the fourth, and the first baseman crossed the plate when Lincoln uncorked a wild pitch to push the lead to 4-2.
That was enough for Phelps, who yielded just one hit -- Encarnacion's drive into the Yankee bullpen that cut Toronto's deficit to 4-3 in the sixth -- after serving up Rasmus' RBI single.
"He came in and he did what he needed to do and more," said Yankees catcher Chris Stewart, who took over behind the plate following Cervelli's exit.
Phelps received some insurance when Robinson Cano laced a leadoff double in the seventh and later came around on a passed ball by Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia.
Bautista crushed an offering from David Robertson just inside the left-field foul pole to pull Toronto within 5-4 in the top of the eighth, but Gardner connected off Darren Oliver in the bottom of the inning to restore the two-run advantage.
The Blue Jays made it interesting in the ninth when singles by Brett Lawrie, Maicer Izturis and Davis against Rivera filled the sacks with two out, but the longtime closer fanned Rasmus swinging to prevent any damage.
Encarnacion gave the Blue Jays an early 1-0 edge with a titanic blast that landed off the facing of the second deck in left to start the second, the slugger's fourth homer in as many games. The Yankees countered later in the inning, with singles by Wells and Ichiro Suzuki putting runners at the corners before Nunez legged out a potential double-play grounder to plate Wells.
Johnson was scratched from Friday's scheduled start due to tightness in his right triceps ... Phelps' previous career best for strikeouts was eight, set over 4 1/3 innings at Tampa Bay on July 4 of last season ... Encarnacion has homered in four straight for the second time in his career, also doing so from April 27-30, 2012 ... Davis finished 2-for-5 and is now batting .323 (10- for-31) during a seven-game hitting streak ... Overbay's triple was just the 12th of his career and first since June 4, 2011 against Philadelphia, while then with Pittsburgh.