Pavano, Yankees shut down Jays

August 29, 2008 7:11:24 PM PDT
Carl Pavano held down Toronto in his first start at Yankee Stadium since opening day last year, and New York managed just enough offense against A.J. Burnett in a 2-1 victory over the Blue Jays on Friday night.Jason Giambi and Bobby Abreu drove in runs for the Yankees, who won for the 18th time this season when scoring three runs or fewer.

They were 6-36 in those games last year.

Pavano (2-0) drew a smattering of applause from a sellout crowd when he stepped to the mound for just his 21st start with the Yankees since signing a four-year contract worth nearly $40 million before the 2005 season. The oft-injured pitcher, in his second start since Tommy John surgery, gave up only three hits and a run over six innings.

More importantly, he walked just one and showed improved command over his first game back last Saturday. Pavano needed only 72 pitches before giving way to a revolving door of relievers, with Mariano Rivera getting the final five outs for his 32nd save.

It was the first time Rivera has pitched more than an inning on back-to-back days this season. He went 1 1-3 innings Thursday for the win against the Boston Red Sox.

With Chien-Ming Wang still out and manager Joe Girardi projecting before the game that Joba Chamberlain will return from the disabled list in a relief roll, the Yankees are hoping Pavano can hold down a spot in the rotation as they give chase to Boston for the AL wild card.

The Yankees began the night six games back of the Red Sox and desperately trying to avoid missing the playoffs for the first time since 1993.

They drew a tall order in facing Burnett, the hard-throwing right-hander who has made a career of frustrating the boys in pinstripes.

Burnett (16-10) allowed only seven hits in a complete game, but lost for the first time in four starts this season against New York, and had his winning streak end at six decisions.

The Yankees scratched out both of their runs in the fourth inning, starting with a leadoff single from Johnny Damon that bounced off the foul line painted on the wall in right field.

Damon got a poor jump trying to steal second base and would have been thrown out had second baseman Joe Inglett held onto the ball as he swiped to tag him on the shoulder. One batter later, Abreu doubled into the gap in left for a 1-0 lead.

Alex Rodriguez followed with an infield single, moving Abreu to third, and Giambi hit a shallow fly ball into foul territory down the left field line. Travis Snider made a leaping grab for the out, but Abreu tagged from third and easily beat the throw to the plate.

Meanwhile, Pavano was cruising through five shutout innings, at one point retiring 12 straight batters.

Snider, the Blue Jays' top prospect making his big league debut, broke up the streak with a one-out double in the sixth that one-hopped the wall in center. Moments later, Marco Scutaro hit a clean single up the middle to draw Toronto to 2-1.

Rod Barajas doubled and Scott Rolen walked leading off the eighth, and reliever Edwar Ramirez struck out Snider. Rivera came on and got Inglett to ground into a fielder's choice that sent the tying run to third, but Rivera calmly struck out Scutaro to end the threat.