By MIKE FITZPATRICK AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) _ Masahiro Tanaka pitched seven sharp innings for his second straight win following a long slump, and the New York Yankees beat the skidding Toronto Blue Jays 6-3 on Monday night.
Hours after announcing they’ll both compete in the Home Run Derby next week, All-Star sluggers Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez sparked New York’s offense. Consecutive singles by those Baby Bombers in the first helped the Yankees scratch out two runs against Marcus Stroman. Judge’s leadoff single and Sanchez’s double set up a four-run eighth that included Chase Headley’s two-run double off Ryan Tepera.
Headley was hit by a pitch to force home a run in the first and finished with three RBIs. Jacoby Ellsbury drew a bases-loaded walk from Stroman (8-5), who grew up on Long Island about 55 miles from Yankee Stadium.
Last-place Toronto has dropped five straight and nine of 11.
Tanaka (7-7) turned in his third consecutive strong outing, a big positive for the banged-up Yankees as they chase AL East-leading Boston. Second-place New York won for only the sixth time in 20 games.
He allowed one run and five hits with eight strikeouts and one walk. The right-hander was coming off a win last Wednesday at the Chicago White Sox _ his first since May 8. Before that, he was 0-6 in a stretch of eight starts.
New York scored its last two runs in the eighth on an error by catcher Luke Maile. They came in handy when Aroldis Chapman gave up two in the ninth before closing it out.
With a runner on, Headley went to his knees to snag a game-ending line drive.
Struggling reliever Dellin Betances, another one of New York’s five All-Stars, struck out two in a scoreless eighth to protect a 2-1 lead. He was aided by Sanchez, who threw out Josh Donaldson trying to steal for an inning-ending double play.
Darwin Barney had an RBI single in the seventh off Tanaka, who snared Maile’s sharp comebacker with a runner on second to end the inning and keep the Yankees ahead.
Pinch-hitter Kevin Pillar had an RBI double in the ninth, and Barney followed with a run-scoring single.
Stroman, bothered at one point by what appeared to be a torn nail, gave up two runs in five innings. He threw 79 pitches.
Blue Jays: With afternoon games coming up the next two days, SS Troy Tulowitzki, C Russell Martin and Pillar were rested. “They need it,” manager John Gibbons said. “I’ve got to do what’s best for them.” … RHP Aaron Sanchez (blister) rejoined the team and could come off the DL later this week to start at home against Houston. Sanchez made his second minor league rehab start Sunday, allowing four runs in 4 1/3 innings for Triple-A Buffalo. He struck out four, walked three and threw 76 pitches. … Gibbons said he hopes reliever Joe Smith (right shoulder) will be able to come off the DL by the end of the week or soon after the All-Star break.
Yankees: Unable to figure out why 1B Greg Bird (bruised right ankle) is still hurting, general manager Brian Cashman said the team hasn’t ruled out exploratory surgery. Cashman called that the “worst-case” scenario. “Obviously, there’s something going on that we haven’t been able to get our hands on,” the GM said. “All the diagnostic testing showed the bone bruise has healed and yet he still has pain.”
CC Sabathia (7-2, 3.46 ERA) comes off the disabled list for the banged-up Yankees to start Tuesday afternoon against fellow lefty J.A. Happ (2-5, 3.71) and the Blue Jays. Sabathia has been sidelined since June 14 with a strained left hamstring. “I feel good. I’m ready to go, so I’m excited to be out there,” he said. New York also expects to activate reliever Adam Warren from the DL before the game. Warren has been out since June 16 because of right shoulder inflammation.
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