Joe Girardi finally can exhale.
After an admitted "up and down" start to the season, which included a six-game losing streak this month, his Yankees appear to have righted the ship.
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Behind two-run homers in the second and sixth innings by Andruw Jones and a two-run homer from Mark Teixeira, the Yankees beat Toronto, 7-3, Wednesday in the rubber game of a three-game series to end their homestand 4-2. It was the second straight victory and seventh win in nine games for the Yankees (27-21), who begin a nine-game, 10-day trip in Seattle Friday.
Toronto lefty Jo-Jo Reyes tied a record with his 28th consecutive winless start. He has not won a game since June 18, 2008. But while Reyes struggled, Freddy Garcia (3-4, 3.26 ERA) had little trouble containing the Blue Jays. He allowed three earned runs and eight hits in 61/3 innings.
After following up Tuesday night's dramatic comeback win with another superb outing at the Stadium, Girardi said he feels "a lot better" about his club.
"Through this we've pitched very well for the most part, and that's going to be important as we move forward through the summer and as we get into trying to win our division," said the manager, who earned his 314th win, surpassing Buck Showalter for eighth on the franchise list.
"It's going to be extremely important. And you get a great day out of Freddy. I thought Freddy set the tone early."
Despite giving up a triple to Yunel Escobar to start the game (and inadvertently tripping third baseman Eduardo Nuñez on a routine pop fly in the same inning), Garcia stranded the runner at third. He didn't surrender a run until the sixth, when Juan Rivera singled through the hole on the left side to score Corey Patterson. The Blue Jays scored twice in the seventh, but by then the Yankees already had put the game out of reach.
Derek Jeter (1-for-3) and Curtis Granderson (2-for-4) put the Yankees up 1-0 with back-to-back doubles in the first. The captain recorded his 2,976th hit and surpassed Cap Anson for 23rd in runs (1,713).
Jones, who went 3-for-3 with four RBIs, padded the lead, hitting his third home run over the leftfield wall in the second. Teixeira's 13th home run drove in two runs in the third.
"It was beautiful, man," Garcia said of the early 5-0 lead. "Every time you pitch and the team scores for you, you have to go out there and shut it down every inning."
Jones, a role player primarily used off the bench against lefthanded pitchers, said he didn't feel slighted when Girardi left him out of the lineup against lefty Ricky Romero Tuesday. He was just happy to get his chance Wednesday, when he produced the 41st multi-home run game of his 16-season career.
"Everybody wants to play. Nobody wants to be on the bench and watch the game," said Jones, who entered the game batting only .189 against lefties this season. "But when you sign the contract, you know what you're signing to and you just have to go with it."
Said Girardi: "Just a great big day for Andruw, and it's a big lift for us to be able to win two out of three two series after we lost the first game. To be able to do that and go on the road, I think that's important.''
Jose Bautista, the major leagues' home run leader with 19, went 1-for-3 and finished 2-for-10 with one home run in the series.