This time Joe Girardi's bullpen formula worked exactly as envisioned.
On a day when A.J. Burnett wasn't great but limited the damage to the point of being able to hand over a one-run lead after six innings, Joba Chamberlain, Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera turned in good outings in the Yankees' 5-4 win over the Blue Jays Saturday at the Stadium.
"Outstanding job,'' Girardi said of the bullpen.
Soriano's outing was especially encouraging for the Yankees (15-9). He came in 1-1 with a 7.84 ERA in 11 previous games, including Tuesday's against the White Sox, when he allowed Paul Konerko's go-ahead two-run homer in an eventual 3-2 loss.
"To me, it's been a bad month,'' Soriano said. "I came back today feeling everything was clear. I tried to go in there and do the best that I can.''
Girardi gave Soriano a vote of confidence after Tuesday's loss but said Saturday's outing was important -- not for the pitcher's job security but for his state of mind. "You'd like to say your guys are invincible and that they have an inner strength that's second to none,'' Girardi said. "But there's human nature involved here. No one wants to struggle.''
After Chamberlain needed only six pitches in a 1-2-3 seventh, Soriano allowed just a two-out single in the eighth, navigating the heart of the order, including Yankees-killer Jose Bautista.
With two outs in the ninth, after getting ahead of former batterymate Jose Molina 0-and-2, Mariano Rivera allowed a double on the eighth pitch of the at-bat, but he got Mike McCoy to fly out to right for his ninth save.
Burnett (4-1, 3.93 ERA) wasn't nearly as sharp as he was in Monday's 2-0 loss to the White Sox, when he allowed one run in eight innings. Unlike many times last year, however, he found a way to keep the opposition from the big inning.
He did it without his best curveball, but Russell Martin kept calling for it. Burnett credited him for the pitch's gradual improvement as the day went on. Its early absence frustrated him, but it didn't show. "I'm not getting bothered by everything,'' he said. "Take today, I probably threw one of two curveballs for a strike. In the past I would have gotten very ticked off about that.''
Actually, Burnett was upset about it at the start, but heeding what pitching coach Larry Rothschild has preached since spring training, he moved on.
"Part of it is understanding that you have to continue to make pitches,'' Rothschild said. "You're not going to get out of it by overthrowing . . . Your whole mind-set has to be executing pitch after pitch.''
Burnett picked off Rajai Davis at first and watched Martin throw out Juan Rivera on an attempted steal of third, which helped. "They're going to get their hits, they're going to get their homers,'' Burnett said. "But whether you make a good pitch, bad pitch, it all comes down to forgetting it and making the next one.''
He allowed four runs, a season-high nine hits and no walks in six innings, turning over a 5-4 lead to the bullpen after being staked to a 5-2 lead after three innings.
The Jays went ahead 1-0 when Davis led off the game with a triple -- on a drive on which Curtis Granderson did not get a good read off the bat -- and scored on Yunel Escobar's grounder. "He just hit it harder than I thought he did,'' Granderson said.
But a day after going 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position, the Yankees hardly erupted on offense but were better in that department, going 4-for-9.