CC can't hold lead; Yanks fall to Jays

CC Sabathia #52 of the New York Yankees CC Sabathia #52 of the New York Yankees sits in the dugout after being pulled from the game during MLB action against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre. (Sept. 16, 2011) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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TORONTO -- Barring the unforeseen, Mariano Rivera eventually will tie and pass Trevor Hoffman for career saves.

What isn't a certainty is CC Sabathia returning to the ace form he showed much of the first four months of the season.

Sabathia, who has not excelled in Joe Girardi's six-man rotation, struggled Friday night in the Yankees' 5-4 loss to the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.

The Blue Jays won it on former Yankee Jose Molina's one-out single in the ninth off Cory Wade, who gave up Luis Rodriguez's walk-off homer in Seattle on Wednesday night. The loss reduced the Yankees' lead in the AL East to 31/2 games over the Red Sox.

The bigger concern as the Yankees look to October is Sabathia, who lasted 52/3 innings, his shortest outing since going 52/3 April 10 in Boston. Sabathia's ERA since Aug. 1 is 4.26 and he has allowed 10 hits in five of his last nine starts.

Asked if taking the mound on extra rest has had an impact on Sabathia, who was not able to hold a 3-1 lead Friday night, Girardi said, "It could." The manager then added, "He's going to be on regular rest his next turn.''

Sabathia has long said he prefers to stay on regular turn -- pitching every fifth day -- but insisted extra rest hasn't hurt him.

"I'm not here to make excuses," Sabathia said. "It's totally my fault today I couldn't go deep in the game. It's my job to go deep into the game and I haven't been able to do that."

Sabathia looked OK the first four innings but lost command in the fifth and was lifted with two outs and the bases loaded in the sixth. He allowed 10 hits, four runs and four walks, striking out eight. His ERA climbed to 3.01.

"Command has been the big issue but my stuff has been there," Sabathia said. "That's what's so frustrating."

Rivera, with his wife and three children in attendance, never got up from his seat in the bullpen and remained at 600 saves.

Nick Swisher's RBI double and Eric Chavez's two-run homer in the fourth gave Sabathia the 3-1 lead, but the lefthander's control abandoned him in a 38-pitch fifth.

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Kelly Johnson led off with a single and, after back-to-back strikeouts of Mike McCoy and Eric Thames, Sabathia couldn't find the plate. He walked Jose Bautista for the second straight at-bat and walked Edwin Encarnacion. Adam Lind then sliced a double over the head of Brett Gardner in left to clear the bases and give the Blue Jays a 4-3 lead. Sabathia's 100th pitch resulted in a Colby Rasmus comebacker to end the inning.

"It's definitely disappointing and not being able to go deep into the game," Sabathia said. "It's just frustrating."

Jesse Litsch replaced Blue Jays starter Dustin McGowan in the sixth and allowed a two-out double to Robinson Cano, who scored on Swisher's line single to left, tying it at 4.

Sabathia did not make it out of the sixth. Johnson, the No. 9 hitter, made it a 3-for-3 night with a one-out single and McCoy followed with a single of his own. After striking out Thames, Sabathia walked Bautista for the third straight time, loading the bases and ending his night after 120 pitches. Luis Ayala got Encarnacion to line out to center to end the inning.

Sabathia, again, insisted extra rest hasn't been a factor.

"My arm feels good, my body feels good," Sabathia said. "I just haven't been executing pitches when I need to.''

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