|Alex Rodriguez and Andy Phillips (12) played key roles in the Yankees' big seventh. (RAY STUBBLEBINE/REUTERS)|
Yankees continue to surge
Rodriguez clutch in 5th straight win
NEW YORK -- Here come the New York Yankees.
Alex Rodriguez hit a go-ahead double in the seventh inning and the surging Yankees won their fifth straight game, beating the Toronto Blue Jays, 6-1, last night.
"We need to make something out of this run," manager Joe Torre said after celebrating his 67th birthday with a victory. "We let the other one get away from us a little bit."
Roger Clemens pitched out of trouble for six gritty innings to keep New York close and Andy Phillips delivered another clutch hit as the Yankees (48-44) moved a season-high four games above .500.
Mariano Rivera entered in the eighth and got five outs for his fourth save in five days.
"We have to do whatever it takes," Rivera said.
By winning 11 of 14 overall, the Yankees have trimmed the Red Sox' lead in the American League East to seven games -- the closest they've been since May 12. Following a miserable first half filled with spurts and slides, they certainly appear ready to take off.
But that's been the case a couple of times before, too.
"There's definitely a positive outlook for us," Rodriguez said.
Derek Jeter and Bobby Abreu started the seventh-inning rally that got Yankee Stadium rocking for one of the few times all season. Eager for a second-half comeback and perhaps sensing the momentum building, the crowd of 52,147 chanted "MVP! MVP!" for Rodriguez as he stood at second after his big hit.
Alex Rios had four hits, including a triple. He scored Toronto's run on Troy Glaus's two-out single in the first, but struck out against Rivera with runners at the corners to end the eighth.
New York shook loose after being stifled for six innings by Shaun Marcum (5-4), who went pitch for pitch with Clemens and had a chance to come out on top.
Marcum's teammates provided little support, however. After stranding 12 runners each of the previous two nights, the Blue Jays left 13 on base this time -- eight against the 44-year-old Clemens.
Clemens allowed a season-high nine hits, struck out three, and walked one in his 700th major league outing. He threw 63 of his 99 pitches for strikes against his former team.
After it took four Yankees relievers to get four outs, Rivera finished for his 15th save in 17 chances.
With the Yankees trailing, 1-0, Jeter lined a 3-and-2 pitch to right for a leadoff single in the seventh. On a perfectly executed hit-and-run, Abreu pulled a grounder through the right side for a single that snapped an 0-for-15 skid.
With runners at the corners, Rodriguez doubled over the head of left fielder Reed Johnson to chase Marcum. Phillips made it 4-1 with a two-run single off Brandon League.
New York has come from behind in four of its past five wins.
" They weren't going to stay down all year," Toronto manager John Gibbons said.