TORONTO - There are no must-wins in June, but this one had the feel of something important so Joe Girardi didn't mess around.
With his club protecting a two-run lead with one out in the eighth, a runner on and his closer having not pitched in a week, Girardi called on David Robertson for a five-out save.
Robertson came through, mowing through the Blue Jays for the next 1 2/3 innings of the Yankees' 5-3 victory, which allowed them to avoid a sweep, in front of 34,710 at Rogers Centre.
"It's good to leave here with one," said Girardi, whose team is off Thursday before starting a three-game series against the Red Sox tomorrow night at the Stadium. "It's not what you want but it sure beats the alternative . . . I thought it was really important going into the off day."
The Yankees (40-37), who got three hits from Jacoby Ellsbury and a two-run homer from Mark Teixeira in a four-run third, ended a four-game losing streak to pull within 2 1/2 games of the Blue Jays (44-36).
"This was a big win, we needed this one, especially going into the off day and stop the bleeding a little bit," said Teixeira, whose team-best 14th homer in the third gave the Yankees a 4-1 lead. He has a team-high 39 RBIs. "Just a good all-around team win."
Hiroki Kuroda (5-5, 4.23) allowed three runs and eight hits in six innings, giving way to Shawn Kelley in the seventh. After Kuroda allowed a leadoff single to Munenori Kawasaki and Anthony Gose hit into a fielder's choice, Girardi brought Kelley in to face Jose Reyes, who led off the game with a homer. Reyes singled to left but Kelley got Melky Cabrera, already with two hits, to fly to right. With two on and two outs, Girardi brought in lefty Matt Thornton to face Adam Lind, who grounded back to the pitcher.
Adam Warren allowed a one-out single to Dioner Navarro in the eighth and Girardi summoned Robertson. The righthander, who hadn't pitched since last Wednesday, struck out the two batters he faced in the eighth, then pitched a perfect ninth to record his 18th save in 20 chances.
"To be honest, I felt better today than I had the last few games," Robertson said. "When I was out there I wasn't thinking about anything but just attacking and just get outs."
The Yankees did just enough offensively, though they were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position. They led 4-3 before loading the bases with none out in the seventh against lefthander Rob Rasmussen, who replaced Drew Hutchinson (four runs, seven hits in six innings). But the Yankees were able to get just one run -- Teixeira's sacrifice fly to make it 5-3.
Trailing 1-0 in the third, the Yanks scored four times against Hutchinson (5-6, 4.00), getting an RBI double from Francisco Cervelli, an RBI single from Ellsbury and Teixeira's homer.
Notes & quotes:Girardi gave Brian McCann, who had played eight straight games, the night off. That essentially amounts to giving the catcher two days off with no game Thursday. "They've been hard games, the last three games he's had to catch, so I just think it's probably a good time," Girardi said . . . CC Sabathia felt OK a day after throwing a simulated game and is still in line to pitch for High-A Tampa Saturday night in a rehab game at GMS Field.