TORONTO -- The beauty of CC Sabathia is he never wants to talk about how good he really is. That task falls on his teammates, who love to gush over the lefty's dazzling command and composure.
"It's like Mo in the ninth," Mark Teixeira said. "You just figure he's going to get it done. I always look forward to his starts, I'll say that."
In the wake of a two-game losing skid since the All-Star break and insinuations that the Blue Jays are stealing signals, Sabathia again was a calming force. He delivered a much-needed 4-1 victory Saturday, allowing three hits in eight innings for his major league-leading 14th win.
Closer Mariano Rivera gave up back-to-back, one-out hits to bring the tying run to the plate in the ninth, but escaped with a scoreless inning and his 23rd save. It was the first win of the four-game series for the Yankees, who were outscored 23-8 in the previous two contests.
Sabathia's scoreless innings streak was snapped at 232/3 innings, but he allowed just one earned run in eight innings, struck out eight and walked three. He has won seven in a row and 11 of 12 since May 19.
His impressive performance, aided by an effective slider, came on the heels of 16-7 and 7-1 losses Thursday and Friday. But Sabathia (14-4) nevertheless downplayed the significance of his start.
"Maybe that's what makes him so good," Joe Girardi said. "He doesn't put too much pressure on himself and just realizes that it's only one start and he can only go out and do what he can do."
Sabathia said his command was off in the first inning, but he and catcher Francisco Cervelli eventually found their groove.
Rajai Davis walked to lead off the Toronto first inning, stole second and scored on a single by Yunel Escobar. Sabathia then shut the door.
"To watch him for eight innings and Mariano for one inning, it's pretty special," said Brett Gardner, who went 3-for-4 with two doubles.
Said Teixeira: "When you expect a guy to throw a shutout every time out there, it's pretty impressive. The last three months there hasn't been a guy better in baseball . . . The first two games after the break, we got our butts kicked and you need a guy like CC to step up and stop that momentum."
Ricky Romero (7-9) looked sharp early on for Toronto but the Yankees scored twice in the second on a ground-rule double by Nick Swisher, an RBI single by Andruw Jones, a double by Gardner, then an RBI groundout by Eduardo Nuñez. Though Nuñez committed his team-high 12th error (which brought the team's series total to six), he has driven in 16 runs, eight of which have tied the game or given the Yankees the lead.
Romero (seven strikeouts) labored through five innings, allowing six hits and four runs (three earned). And the Blue Jays' two errors didn't help his cause.
"We just continued to make him work and work and work," Girardi said of Romero, who is 3-3 with a 4.80 ERA in nine career starts against the Yankees.
The Yankees (10 hits) scored in the third when with two outs and Curtis Granderson (walk) on third and Robinson Cano on first, Cano got caught in a rundown between first and second. Second baseman Aaron Hill could have tagged out Cano, but threw home when he saw Granderson take off. Hill's throw to catcher J.P. Arencibia was high.
Derek Jeter, who entered the game hitting .095 against Romero, singled in the fourth Yankees run in the next inning and tied Al Kaline (3,007) for 26th place on the all-time career hits list with a single in the ninth. The shortstop also corralled a Davis chopper in the eighth that kept the Jays from scoring.
"I thought that was huge," Sabathia said of the play.