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Yankees flash plenty of power as Andy Pettitte beats Blue Jays, 9-4

Travis Hafner of the Yankees is congratulated by

Travis Hafner of the Yankees is congratulated by third base coach Rob Thomson after hitting a solo home run in the third inning against the Toronto Blue Jays. (April 19, 2013) Credit: Getty Images

TORONTO -- Before the game, Joe Girardi expressed optimism that Andy Pettitte's back would be OK. Of course, he said later, "You want to see it.''

What everyone at Rogers Centre saw Friday night was a 40-year-old lefthander still very much on his game.

Pettitte, backed by home runs by Travis Hafner, Lyle Overbay and Vernon Wells and seven other extra-base hits, turned in his third strong start in as many tries in a 9-4 victory over the Blue Jays.

"Andy's remarkable,'' said Wells, a Blue Jay from 1999-2010 who heard a torrent of abuse from the leftfield seats all night. "He's the same guy he was 10, 12 years ago. It's fun to watch.''

Pettitte (3-0, 2.01 ERA) allowed three hits and a run in the first 52/3 innings and led 8-1 before Melky Cabrera singled and Jose Bautista homered with two outs in the sixth. He wound up pitching 71/3 innings, throwing 61 of his 90 pitches for strikes.

"I felt like I hadn't pitched all year,'' said Pettitte, who hadn't started since April 9 and was scratched from last Sunday's outing because of back spasms. "It took me a few innings to settle in. I was overthrowing a little bit early, but the guys scored some runs and that allowed me to relax and settle in.''

The Yankees (9-6), who have won eight of 10, had 13 hits, adding a triple and six doubles to their three homers. Robinson Cano had three hits and Hafner, Wells, Francisco Cervelli and Ichiro Suzuki had two each.

For all the talk about the power drain to the Yankees' offense in the offseason, they've hit an AL-best 25 home runs.

"It's an interesting mix,'' Girardi said of veteran additions such as Hafner, Wells and Overbay who have given the team a different look. "You have a lot of guys that came from different places making huge contributions. These guys are having fun and they're enjoying each other. Personalities have really meshed in that clubhouse, which I think is important.''

The Yankees went after Jays starter Brandon Morrow (0-2, 5.57) immediately. With one out, Cano doubled to right-center and Kevin Youkilis was hit by a pitch for the fourth time this season. Hafner, hitting .342 with a .444 on-base percentage coming in, pulled a double over first base for a 1-0 lead. Wells, who later made it 9-3 with his homer, grounded out for a 2-0 lead.

"It's kind of like a family when you come back here,'' Wells said with a smile. "There's some family members that like you and some that really don't.''

The Jays (7-10) cut into the deficit in the bottom of the inning when Rajai Davis tripled and scored on Cabrera's grounder.

With one out in the third, Hafner pounced on Morrow's 3-and-1 pitch, a 94-mph fastball, and drove it to the opposite field over the leftfield wall for his fifth homer and a 3-1 lead. Colby Rasmus' throwing error later in the inning allowed two runs to score and made it 5-1.

Overbay, a Blue Jay from 2006-10, obliterated the first pitch he saw from Morrow with one out in the sixth, blasting it to center for his second homer of the year and a 6-1 lead.

After Cervelli's second double of the night, an opposite-field drive to right, Toronto manager John Gibbons brought in lefty Brett Cecil to face Brett Gardner, whose first triple of the season made it 7-1. Cano's groundout gave the Yankees an 8-1 lead.

"This is what I expected,'' Pettitte said. "I expected us to be successful. I expected us to pitch well and I feel if we're going to pitch well, it takes a lot of pressure off the hitters. I had a really good feel about what we were going to be able to do. We're playing really good right now.''

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