R.A. Dickey prevailed in a pitcher's duel with Andy Pettitte, and the Toronto Blue Jays struck the latest blow to the New York Yankees' playoff hopes with a 2-0 victory that opened a three-game series at Rogers Centre.
Dickey (13-12) yielded just four hits and two walks while striking out eight over seven scoreless innings, sending the sputtering Yankees to a fourth straight loss after Casey Janssen struck out the side in the ninth.
"It would be nice to continue to grow. These are important game, for me in particular. We are going to be competing next year, it is important to start getting it right now," said Dickey.
The setback dropped New York to 3 1/2 games back in the American League wild card race, where Tampa Bay and Texas currently hold the top two spots after the Rangers defeated the Rays on Tuesday.
Pettitte (10-10) gave the Yankees a chance by firing 6 2/3 effective innings, with the veteran's lone mistake a solo homer to Colby Rasmus in the bottom of the fourth. Rajai Davis added a solo shot later on and finished 2-for-4 in the win, only the Blue Jays' fourth in 17 meetings with New York this season.
Rasmus broke a scoreless deadlock with his third homer in as many games, a towering blast into the second deck in right with one out in the bottom of the fourth. Pettitte was able to keep the Blue Jays at bay for the remainder of his stint, aided by a nifty sliding catch from center fielder Curtis Granderson on Brett Lawrie's sinking liner that ended the fifth with the speedy Davis on second.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi removed Pettitte with two out and none on in the seventh following the lefty's 110th pitch. Shawn Kelley came on in relief and was promptly greeted by a long home run from Davis that extended the lead to 2-0.
"It is tough. You get a good pitching performance from Andy. We just weren't able to do anything (offensively). We just have to go out and win tomorrow," said Girardi.
New York had Dickey in trouble early on, loading the bases with two out before the knuckleballer fanned Mark Reynolds to end the threat. The Yankees stranded two more runners in the second.
Dickey was masterful from that point on, striking out the side in third and retiring the final 11 batters he faced before giving way to Sergio Santos to begin the eighth.
The Yankees mustered only a pair of singles over the final seven innings.
Davis is 12-for-23 lifetime against Pettitte, who was dealt his first loss since Aug. 5 at the White Sox despite a seventh consecutive quality start ... Pettitte also lost for just the second time (7-2) in his last 10 outings against Toronto dating back to August of 2009, with three of those wins coming this season ... The Blue Jays ended the seasons of first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnacion and reliever Brett Cecil by placing both on the 15-day disabled list before the game. Encarnacion is headed for surgery to repair cartilage damage in his left wrist, while Cecil is bothered by a sore elbow ... The Yankees are 4-14 in their last 18 games when failing to hit a home run.