Mike Mussina won for the first time this season and the Yankees swept a two-game series with a 4-3 victory over the Blue Jays 4-3 on Thursday night.
New York arrived in Canada having lost five of six games, and were tied with Tampa Bay for last place in the AL East at 5-9. Now the Yankees are one game ahead of the Devil Rays.
"We've been struggling so we needed to win a close game," Mussina said. "I think this gives some confidence, hanging on to win."
Mussina (1-1) allowed three runs and 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings, striking out five and walking one.
The 36-year-old right-hander escaped jams in the third and fourth innings by inducing double play grounders. Relievers Buddy Groom and Frankie Rodriguez bailed him out in the sixth, getting out of a one-out, two-on jam.
Relievers Mike Stanton and Tom Gordon also worked and Mariano Rivera, New York's fifth reliever, allowed two runners in the ninth but got his third save in five chances.
"You win games in strange ways sometimes," Mussina said. "Our bullpen won this game for us. We needed it as a group and they needed to come through and hold on and get us a win."
Bernie Williams had two hits and an RBI for the Yankees, whose bullpen has struggled.
"I've been a lot of teams that have started off slow, but then guys get set in their roles and do their job," Groom said.
The Yankees spoiled the home debut of rookie left-hander Gustavo Chacin (3-1), who won his first three starts. Chacin allowed four runs and six hits in six innings. The 24-year-old won his major league debut at Yankee Stadium last Sept. 20.
"I missed a couple of pitches up in the zone that's where I got hurt," Chacin said. "But I still fought and kept the game close."
Toronto loaded the bases in the third, but Corey Koskie hit a grounder to Mussina, who started a 1-2-3 double play. Toronto's Alex Rios also hit an inning-inning double play in the fourth.
"It hurts for sure," Toronto's Reed Johnson said. "Two runs for us would have made the difference."
Williams led off New York's fourth with a single and scored on Gary Sheffield's RBI double. Hideki Matsui followed with a sacrifice fly for a 2-0 lead.
Chacin walked Jorge Posada to lead of the fifth and allowed a single to Tino Martinez before Rey Sanchez advanced the runners with a sacrifice. Derek Jeter followed with a sacrifice fly and Williams added a run-scoring single to make it 4-0.
The Blue Jays rallied with three runs and five hits in the fifth. Orlando Hudson, John McDonald and Frank Catalanotto led off with three straight singles. Catalanotto's scored Hudson.
Shea Hillenbrand and Vernon Wells added RBI singles off Mussina, cutting the lead to 4-3.
Mussina allowed the first two batters to reach in the sixth, but Groom got Gregg Zaun to pop out and Rodriguez got Hillenbrand to ground out.
The Yankees placed DH Ruben Sierra on the 15-day disabled list with what might be a slight tear of his right biceps. Sierra is to have an MRI on Friday to determine whether he has a tear. He was hurt while swinging at a changeup during Wednesday's game against Toronto. ... Hillenbrand has hit in 14 of 16 games.