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Yanks topple Jays, keep pace in WC race

MLB.com

NEW YORK -- The Yankees don't intend to go down without a fight, and they certainly aren't going to make things easy for the division leaders in the American League East.

New York issued an early statement on Labor Day by delivering a blow to the Blue Jays with a 5-3 victory at Yankee Stadium. The win allowed the Yankees to remain 3 1/2 games back of Baltimore for the second Wild Card while at the same time making things even tougher on the suddenly struggling Blue Jays.

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NEW YORK -- The Yankees don't intend to go down without a fight, and they certainly aren't going to make things easy for the division leaders in the American League East.

New York issued an early statement on Labor Day by delivering a blow to the Blue Jays with a 5-3 victory at Yankee Stadium. The win allowed the Yankees to remain 3 1/2 games back of Baltimore for the second Wild Card while at the same time making things even tougher on the suddenly struggling Blue Jays.

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Toronto's lead atop the division remains at one game over the Red Sox due to Boston's 2-1 loss to the Padres. The loss did allow the Orioles to pull within two games of first place in the division after Baltimore pulled out a 7-3 victory over Tampa Bay.

Ellsbury, back in lineup, is difference-maker

Jacoby Ellsbury led the way for New York by going 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs. First baseman Tyler Austin chipped in with a pair of hits, while right-hander Masahiro Tanaka picked up the quality start by limiting Toronto's offense to a pair of earned runs over 6 1/3 innings. It was the Yankees' second consecutive victory after they took the series finale vs. Baltimore on Sunday.

Bloom: Tanaka fulfilling huge expectations

Video: TOR@NYY: Tanaka fans Upton Jr. in the 6th

"Obviously it was a big win for us," Ellsbury said. "So was yesterday, and tomorrow is going to be another. We've got to keep going out there and playing with energy. The guys in the clubhouse want it. We're playing hard and it's fun to see."

Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey was saddled with the loss after he surrendered five runs on seven hits over just four innings. Edwin Encarnacion had a two-run single and Jose Bautista added an RBI, but outside of that, it was another quiet day for Toronto's bats, and the team has now lost three of its last four games.

"We can't worry about it. It's in the past," Encarnacion said. "We have to focus on tomorrow's game and the next three weeks."

Back tightens on Liriano in 2nd bullpen outing

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Bloop and a blast: The Yankees erased the Blue Jays' early lead and jumped on top in the bottom of the first. After Brett Gardner singled to lead off the frame, Ellsbury parked one over the right-field wall to give New York a 2-1 lead. According to Statcast™, Ellsbury's seventh home run of the season traveled a projected 351 feet and left the bat at 91 mph.

"You just try to go up there, get something in the zone and make solid contact," Ellsbury said about the first of his three hits on the afternoon. "Fortunately in the first inning I got something in the air and I hit it hard."

Video: TOR@NYY: Girardi on Ellsbury's big game in 5-3 win

Close but not close enough: Toronto entered the top of the seventh trailing by four, but the club loaded the bases as Ezequiel Carrera, Bautista and Josh Donaldson walked. Encarnacion stepped to the plate and hit a bloop two-run single to right field off Ben Heller to get the Blue Jays back into the game. Russell Martin then pinch-hit for Michael Saunders and represented the go-ahead run, but he hit a weak popup to second base as the threat came to an end.

"I made an adjustment," Encarnacion said of his at-bat. "With runners in scoring position they've been throwing me away, so I just tried to take it the other way. … Sometimes, like today, we hit a lot of hard balls right at people. It's part of the game. We have to keep doing it, keep going and keep swinging."

Video: TOR@NYY: Encarnacion smacks a two-run single to right

Austin powers: The Yankees received a pregame visit from rehabbing Greg Bird, but it was another young first baseman who got the job done on Monday. Austin recorded his first career game with multiple extra-base hits, including a two-run double off the wall in the fourth to extend the Yankees' lead to 5-1. The 24-year-old went 2-for-3 and has six hits in his last 21 at-bats.

"I think this is a kid who can help us in a number of areas," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We thought he had an outstanding Minor League season and we believe he can help us. He can play first base, he can play in the outfield if we need him to do that, so he gives us some versatility. From that fact, I think it's important."

Video: TOR@NYY: Austin belts a two-run double to left-center

Baserunning blunder: Bautista did not do the Blue Jays any favors in the fifth inning when he ran into the final out at third base. He was on first with two outs when Encarnacion hit a ball down the left-field line. Bautista rounded second and tried to make it to third, but he was easily thrown out by left fielder Gardner. Bautista also drew some criticism after he was thrown out at the plate in the top of the first when runners were on the corners. It's worth noting, though, that Bautista headed home because it helped Toronto avoid a potential double play as it forced Austin to throw to the plate instead of trying to turn two on Saunder's grounder to first. Toronto scored one in that first inning but wouldn't score again until the seventh.

"We came out swinging in that first inning and then he got out of it with just one run," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of Tanaka. "That's always big for a pitcher. He held us in check for the most part. We made a run late, pulled within two, and that was basically it."

Video: TOR@NYY: Gardner fires to nab Bautista at third

QUOTABLE
"Sometimes this game's a matter of a centimeter. One that gets off the barrel, doesn't get off the barrel and it's popped out to right field. Or an infield single, or a single the other way that's a pretty good one. It's just been frustrating, but I got to keep pushing forward. I've got a lot to offer still and four more starts to do it." -- Dickey, on his rough outing

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Blue Jays hitters were held homerless for the third time in their last four games. They have one home run over that span, which is their fewest amount of homers over a four-game stretch since April 18-21.

UNDER REVIEW
Gibbons lost his challenge in the eighth inning. Carrera hit a slow grounder to first base and dove headfirst into the bag almost at the exact same time that reliever Tyler Clippard touched the base with his foot. After review, it was ruled that the call on the field stands.

Video: TOR@NYY: Carrera ruled out at first, call stands

WHAT'S NEXT
Blue Jays: Right-hander Aaron Sanchez (13-2, 2.88 ERA) will take the mound when the Blue Jays continue their three-game series against the Yankees on Tuesday at Yankee Stadium (7:05 p.m. ET first pitch). Sanchez made his return to the rotation following a 10-day absence but did not show any signs of rust during his last start by allowing just one unearned run over six strong innings.

Yankees: Luis Cessa (4-0, 4.17 ERA) gets the ball Tuesday evening at Yankee Stadium. Cessa went six innings and allowed four runs (three earned) in a no-decision against the Royals his last time out. The 24-year-old right-hander will be making his fourth career start after making eight appearances as a reliever.

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Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Alykhan Ravjiani is a reporter for MLB.com and covered the Yankees on Monday.