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Yankees score early, hold off Jays

Apr 6, 2014 - 8:55 PM Toronto, ON ( - Brett Gardner walked to ignite a three-run first inning for New York and capped a three-run fourth with a two-run homer, leading the Yankees to a 6-4 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in the rubber match of a three-game series on Sunday at Rogers Centre.

CC Sabathia (1-1) rebounded from a difficult first start of the season for the Yankees and picked up the win over six innings. He pitched well for a stretch, but still gave up four runs on seven hits with six strikeouts, five days after yielding six runs over the first two innings of the season opener against Houston.

Gardner hit New York's first home run of the year. The five-game homerless stretch to start a season was the longest for the Yankees since the 1990 team went the first seven games without a long ball.

"I think if you were to take a poll, (Gardner) wouldn't be the first guy chosen (to homer)," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. "It's good to get it out of the way."

Kelly Johnson doubled home two runs and Yangervis Solarte added an RBI double for the Yankees, who went 3-3 on a season-opening six-game road trip. New York will open its home schedule on Monday against Baltimore.

Derek Jeter went 2-for-5 in the victory and surpassed Paul Molitor for eighth place on the all-time hits list with 3,320.

Former Yankee Melky Cabrera led off the home first with a homer, his third of the series, and Erik Kratz knocked in a pair of runs for Toronto. Cabrera had a chance to win it for the Blue Jays with two on and two outs in the ninth, but lined out to right field to give David Robertson his second save of the year.

Drew Hutchison (1-1) took the loss after winning his first start on Tuesday against Tampa Bay. He threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings against the Rays, but on Sunday was tagged for six runs on six hits and three walks in just 3 1/3 innings.

The Yankees jumped on Hutchison for three runs in the first inning with only one hit. Gardner led off with a walk, then stole second and advanced to third on a grounder to the right side by Jeter before scoring on a Jacoby Ellsbury grounder. Hutchison also walked Brian McCann and hit Alfonso Soriano with a pitch before Johnson's double to center chased home both runners.

Cabrera got one back on Sabathia's second pitch in the bottom of the first with a homer over the left-field wall, but Sabathia settled down over the next few innings while his teammates built a bigger advantage.

Brian Roberts led off the fourth with a walk and stole second, then scored on Solarte's ground-rule double. Gardner followed with a blast over the right field wall to increase the lead to 6-1.

"It was nice to give CC a 3-0 lead and a 6-1 lead after four innings," said Girardi. "You look at him for 5 2/3 innings and he was really good."

Sabathia had retired nine straight batters before Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion each singled with two outs in the sixth. Dioner Navarro then doubled down the left-field line to score Bautista, and Kratz followed with a two-run base hit up the middle to make it 6-4 before Brett Lawrie flied harmlessly to center to end the inning.

"I'd like to have a few pitches back in that sixth inning, but all in all it was pretty good," Sabathia said of his start.

Adam Warren tossed a perfect seventh for New York and Shawn Kelley worked around a two-out triple by Encarnacion in the eighth. Robertson gave up a one- out single to Lawrie and walked Adam Lind, but retired Colby Rasmus on a pop up before Cabrera's line drive to Ichiro Suzuki in right ended the game.

Game Notes

The Yankees were 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position after a 1-for-11 effort in Saturday's loss ... Soriano ended an 0-for-17 slump to start the season with a bloop single in the fifth ... Sabathia improved to 7-1 lifetime in nine career starts at Rogers Centre and has beaten the Blue Jays at least once in 11 straight seasons ... Cabrera has a 16-game hitting streak against his former team ... Ellsbury went 1-for-5 batting third in the lineup and finished the series 7-for-14.