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Ichiro’s Big Day Leads To Double-Dip Sweep

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NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 19: Ichiro Suzuki #31 of the New York Yankees steals third base as Brett Lawrie #13 of the Toronto Blue Jays is late with the tag during their game on September 19, 2012 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 19: Ichiro Suzuki #31 of the New York Yankees steals third base as Brett Lawrie #13 of the Toronto Blue Jays is late with the tag during their game on September 19, 2012 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

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By HOWIE RUMBERG
AP Sports Writer

NEW YORK (AP) _ Ichiro Suzuki had a go-ahead single in the
eighth inning, his seventh hit of the day, to help the New York
Yankees complete a doubleheader sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays with
a 2-1 win Wednesday night that ensured they remained atop the AL
East.

Suzuki made a difficult catch with the bases loaded in the
eighth inning of the opener to preserve a lead for Andy Pettitte in
a 4-2 victory.

New York will end the night with at least a half-game division
lead, pending on the outcome of Baltimore’s game against Felix
Hernandez and the Seattle Mariners.

The wily outfielder had three hits in the opener batting leadoff
in place of Derek Jeter, who rested his sore ankle in the first
game of the day-night doubleheader. Jeter started at shortstop for
the first time in a week and got his 200th hit on Ricky Romero’s
first pitch.

The single to center tied Jeter with Lou Gehrig for most 200-hit
seasons for New York with eight.

Rafael Soriano closed both games, notching his 41st and 42nd
saves, the first time he saved two in one day.

The Blue Jays, playing their first doubleheader against the
Yankees since 1986, were without shortstop Yunel Escobar, who began
a three-game suspension for wearing eye black displaying an
anti-gay slur written in Spanish during a game last weekend against
Boston.

Toronto dropped to 66-81, guaranteeing it will not have a
winning record this season.

With the score 1-1, Curtis Granderson was walked by Steve
Delabar (4-3) to open the eighth. He moved up on Jayson Nix’s
sacrifice and stole third. With two outs, Suzuki slapped an
opposite field hit to left for the lead. Suzuki stole two bases in
the inning to give him four.

The Yankees had seven steals in the nightcap, their most in a
game in three years.

Cody Eppley (1-2) got one out for his first win since April 27,
2011, for Texas against Toronto.

David Phelps followed Pettitte’s sparkling five-inning return to
the mound by pitching into the seventh. He gave up one run and
three hits.

Romero remained tied for the Blue Jays record with 13 straight
losses and walked five to up his AL-leading total to 99. It was his
third game in which he allowed one run and didn’t win _ two
no-decisions.

Adeiny Hechavarria’s RBI single in the second after Phelps
walked was just the 24th run Toronto has scored in Romero’s last 13
starts.

In the bottom half, Chris Stewart drove in a run with a double
to left that bounced over the wall and prevented Suzuki from
scoring from first. Suzuki had singled and Nix was thrown out
trying to score on a strong throw by center fielder Colby Rasmus.
Romero had walked two to set up the tying run.

Romero was finished after allowing seven hits in six innings. He
struck out five.

After driving in a run with a groundout in the first game, Alex
Rodriguez came up with a runner in scoring position in each of his
first three at-bats in the second. He grounded into a double play
and struck out twice. The fans let him hear it in the fifth when he
fanned with runners on first and second then again when he struck
out with none on in the seventh, his fifth K of the day.

In the opener, Pettitte (4-3) gave up four hits in his first
start since a hot shot off the bat of Cleveland’s Casey Kotchman
broke his left fibula on June 27.

Pettitte struggled a bit with his command, walking two, but kept
the Blue Jays from hitting the ball hard with a biting breaking
ball. He put runners on in each of his first four innings and had a
runner on third in the second through fourth innings. But he got
timely groundouts in the second, third _ a double play _ and fourth
to avoid trouble. Then had a six-pitch fifth to earn the win.

“He gave us everything that we asked for,” manager Joe Girardi
said.

With the 40-year-old lefty on a 75-pitch limit, Girardi mixed
and matched liberally, using six relievers.

Clay Rapada, Derek Lowe, Joba Chamberlain and Boone Logan held
Toronto scoreless through seven innings. Then Robertson gave up an
RBI single to pinch-hitter Kelly Johnson and a run-scoring double
to Omar Vziquel in the eighth.

Soriano relieved with two outs and runners on second and third.
He walked Anthony Gose after a foul drive that landed about a foot
foul down the left-field line. Davis followed with his liner to
left field that Suzuki caught.

Nick Swisher had an RBI single in the bottom half.

Toronto’s 45-year-old Vizquel had two hits to move past Babe
Ruth for 41st on the career list at 2,874.

NOTES: Toronto’s Henderson Alvarez (9-13) allowed five hits in
seven innings and struck out a career-high seven. … Toronto DH
Edwin Encarnacion (sore right big toe) did not play in the either
game. … The Blue Jays will play another doubleheader Monday,
making up an Aug. 26 postponement at Baltimore. They will play nine
games in seven days. … To make room for Pettitte on the 40-man
roster, the Yankees recalled RHP Dellin Betances from the minors
and placed him on the 60-day DL.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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