CC Sabathia slowly trudged his way to the dugout after the top of the sixth inning Wednesday, muttering some choice words to himself under his breath, visibly ticked that he had surrendered a homer for the go-ahead run.

"Yeah, just frustration," the Yankees' lefthanded ace said, "of actually having my stuff and not making the pitches."

Sabathia just wasn't himself against the Blue Jays and didn't have the great command that was on display in Cleveland in his return from the disabled list. He failed to consistently put away hitters when he had them in unfavorable counts and coughed up a pair of leads -- 2-0 and 4-3 -- in the Yankees' 8-5 loss to Toronto at the Stadium in front of a matinee crowd of 46,010.

Yunel Escobar, who tied a career high with four hits, was a one-man wrecking crew for the Blue Jays, driving in five runs, doubling three times and hitting the go-ahead, two-run homer in the sixth off Sabathia that gave Toronto a 5-4 lead it never relinquished.

"It's definitely disappointing," said Sabathia, who allowed nine hits with eight strikeouts. "I feel like this game is all my fault."

It wasn't, though. In fact, three of the five runs Sabathia was charged with were unearned. The Yankees' defense committed three errors and helped the Blue Jays leave town with their first series win in more than a month -- and collect just their second victory in their last 10 games.

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The offense, however, is what really did the Yankees in on this crisp late summer afternoon. They safely reached base in six of the nine innings, yet they could never get that big hit. The Yankees went 3-for-17 with runners in scoring position, matching their most at-bats with runners in scoring position in a nine-inning game this season.

Add it all up and the Yankees lost for the sixth time in their past nine games. Their once 10-game lead in the AL East was reduced to three games over the Orioles entering Wednesday night's games.

"We just didn't get it done," manager Joe Girardi said. "That's the bottom line. We had a ton of chances. You go back early in the game, and we had chances and we just didn't get it done."

Usually, the Yankees can at least rely on their offensive staple this season: the home run. But even their long ball stroke has dried up over the last two games. They didn't crack a homer for the second straight game, marking just the third time that's happened all season.

Sure, six of their eight hits were doubles. They left eight men on base, however.

"It's part of the game, you know?" said Andruw Jones, who batted cleanup and drove in one of the Yankees' runs. "Sometimes you are going to struggle in ways. We went on a good streak for a while and scored a lot of runs, and right now we've kind of cooled down a little bit.

"But you've got to give credit to the pitchers. They pitched good. That's why we didn't score. We've got to put it behind us, look forward for the next series and go out there and get the job done again."

Trailing 6-4 in the bottom of the eighth, the Yankees tried to stage a comeback. Russell Martin's RBI double off the third base bag scored Raul Ibañez, who doubled while pinch hitting for Steve Pearce.

With two outs and Martin on second and behind by a run, Derek Jeter battled Brandon Lyon to a full count, but the reliever got Jeter to fly out to center to end the threat.

So the Yankees are limping into their crucial three-game set with the Orioles that begins in the Bronx .

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"It's tough," Nick Swisher said. "We've got an off day [today] and nobody likes losing before off days. Just a tough series for us, man. We've got to put it behind us. That off day for us couldn't come at a better time.

"We are a little banged up right now. We've just got to keep going out there and we've got to find a way to win games. That's it."