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TORONTO - The absence of Mark Teixeira notwithstanding, Joe Girardi finally felt as if he sent out a fairly complete team Monday night.
"It's about as whole as we've been all year long," said Girardi, who had Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez in the same lineup for the first time this season.
But even with A-Rod hitting the 650th homer of his career, the pair's presence wasn't enough to spark the Yankees, who were doomed by another poor outing by Phil Hughes in a 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays in front of 35,241 at Rogers Centre.
After losing two of three in St. Petersburg, Fla., against the Rays over the weekend, the Yankees (69-62) hoped to regain their momentum against a Toronto team they had beaten 12 times in 13 games this season. It didn't happen.
"Toronto's got a good team. They're not just going to lay down," said Jeter, who went 0-for-3 with a walk in only his sixth game of the year.
Hughes (4-13, 4.91), who hasn't won since July 2, again was the story after allowing five runs (three earned), seven hits and three walks in 42/3 innings. A critical error by Ichiro Suzuki in right (more on that later) in a three-run fifth that gave the Blue Jays a 5-2 lead certainly didn't help.
Joe Girardi said yanking him from the rotation hasn't been discussed, but he didn't dismiss the possibility, either.
Hughes, who will be a free agent after the season and is unlikely to be back next year, said taking the mound with confidence is "a battle every day."
And although he said "I feel like my stuff is good right now," Hughes also knows time is short and that the Yankees -- who fell 41/2 games behind Oakland for the second wild-card spot -- can't afford many more of the outings that have typified his 2013.
"It's a grind and I have to find a way to turn this thing around," Hughes said. "Now is an important time for this ballclub, and if I step up and do the job that I'm supposed to, what's been a horrible season I can at least make amends for a little bit."
The crucial fifth inning, which started with Rodriguez tying it at 2-2 with an opposite-field blast off R.A. Dickey (one earned run and six hits in 61/3 innings), continued innocently enough in the bottom half as No. 9 hitter Anthony Gose flied out to left. But Jose Reyes lined a double to right and went to third on Ryan Goins' single to right.
Edwin Encarnacion then lifted a fly ball to the warning track in right. Ichiro, who had plenty of room in front of the wall, jumped and saw the ball bang off his glove and off the wall. The play, scored as a sacrifice fly and an error, allowed Reyes to score to make it 3-2.
"If I could have gone straight home from rightfield, I would have,'' Ichiro said. "I was that embarrassed.''
Said Girardi: "It just looked like he jumped for it and he didn't have to; he maybe thought he was closer to the wall than he [actually was].''
Ichiro declined go into detail. "I don't think there needs to be any more explanation," he said through his translator. "I think everybody saw exactly what happened, so there's nothing to really explain."
Adam Lind followed with an RBI double and, after an intentional walk to Brett Lawrie loaded the bases, Moises Sierra's sacrifice fly to right made it 5-2. That was all for Hughes, who was replaced by lefthander David Huff to face the lefthanded-hitting Josh Thole.
Huff, a candidate along with Adam Warren should Girardi look to make a rotation change, finished up with 31/3 hitless innings, walking one and striking out five.
Girardi threw Hughes a bit of a lifeline as a result of the error -- "it changes the complexion of the inning," Girardi said -- but the pitcher wasn't having it.
"Errors are a part of the game," Hughes said. "I have to find a way to get out of that inning and I didn't do the job. What coulda shoulda happened is irrelevant.''