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Toronto at New York

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Toronto (78-77)030000020590
N.Y. Yankees (90-65) «03003010x7120

Mussina wins 250th game as Yankees edge Blue Jays

CBSSports.com wire reports
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NEW YORK -- Joba Rules were made to be broken.

Toronto was threatening in the eighth inning, pulling within two runs and putting two men on. Even though Yankees manager Joe Torre had said Joba Chamberlain was unavailable, the sellout crowd of 54,983 started chanting "We Want Joba!"

Chamberlain jogged in from the bullpen on his 22nd birthday, threw five nasty sliders to strike out Adam Lind, then followed with a perfect ninth inning. With his first major league save, the rookie sensation preserved New York's 7-5 victory over the Blue Jays and Mike Mussina's 250th big league win.

Harlan Chamberlain, the reliever's polio-stricken father, watched from his motorized scooter and remembered back to his newborn son's bassinet at Saint Elizabeth Regional Medical Center in Lincoln, Neb.

"Twenty-two years ago today, I put a glove with a Velcro ball in the palm of the glove," he said. "If that glove could have spelled out the future and said 22 years from today, you'll be in Yankee Stadium, I would have thought that was the furthest thing that could ever happen," he said.

New York, close to clinching its 13th consecutive playoff appearance, pulled within 1½ games of AL East-leading Boston with a week remaining in the regular season. The Yankees overcame a 3-0 deficit and reached 90 wins for the seventh straight year, the third-longest streak in major league history behind the 1947-58 Yankees and 1904-12 Chicago Cubs, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Mussina (11-10) won his third straight start since rejoining the rotation; backup catcher Jose Molina had three hits, three RBI, a key tag play and a big pickoff; and Melky Cabrera threw out a runner at the plate for the second straight day, raising his assists total for the season to 16 -- including a major league-leading 14 as a center fielder.

But the electricity was provided by Chamberlain, who has allowed one earned run in 16 appearances since coming up from the minors in early August.

With a 100 mph fastball and a 92 mph slider that drops at the plate like an Olympic diver, he's been unhittable most days. The Yankees have babied him -- the Joba Rules stated he could only enter at the start of innings, he could warm up only once and that he would get at least one day off for every inning he threw. It was as if New York had an elixir it didn't want to dispense too frequently.

He had gone two innings and 30 pitches Friday night. But before Sunday's game, Torre spoke with general manager Brian Cashman and pitching instructor Nardi Contreras to clarify the amendments they all discussed during a conference call Friday.

So rather than bring in Mariano Rivera for the third straight day, Torre got permission to break the Joba Rules -- or rather, set new ones. Starting now, depending on pitch count, Chamberlain can be used in back-to-back games.

"It was great to get that opportunity and to show that I can come back," Chamberlain said. "It's doing me good for situations to where we maybe need to give Mariano a break."

Under Torre, the Yankees have burned out relievers such as Jeff Nelson, Tanyon Sturtze and Scott Proctor. Chamberlain was a starter in the minors, and the Yankees project he'll be a starter next year.

Hence, the restrictions -- which have become so well known in New York that "Joba Rules" T-shirts are on sale.

"We're on the move with this thing. A lot of it is going to be judged on pitch count, and the days off will vary," Torre said. "He just keeps his wits about him. I told him when I shook his hand at the end, I said, `You grew a little bit more today."'

Chamberlain struck out two in the ninth to raise his total to 31 in 21 2/3 innings. He got the game ball and planned to give it to his father, who has a bookcase in his garage that will be moved to the living room to give the ball a proper display.

New York won for the 14th time in 17 games, remained 5½ games ahead of Detroit in the wild-card race and lowered its magic number for clinching a playoff spot to two.

Molina, starting after Jorge Posada caught consecutive extra-inning games, singled in the Yankees' first run in a three-run second that tied the score 3-all. He picked off Alex Rios at first base in the third with a perfect snap throw, then got credit for the tag in the fourth, when John McDonald singled up the middle with two outs and Gregg Zaun tried to score from second.

Cabrera's throw was slightly off line and Molina swiped his glove at the sliding Zaun, whose helmet tumbled off. Plate umpire Derryl Cousins called Zaun out -- replays were inconclusive.

"I don't think he tagged me," Zaun said, "and I know I touched home plate. Derryl thought he did tag me."

New York took a 6-3 lead in the fifth against Dustin McGowan (11-10) on RBI singles by Robinson Cano, Doug Mientkiewicz and Molina, who added an RBI double in the seventh off Josh Banks that made it 7-5.

Matt Stairs hit a two-run homer in the eighth off Luis Vizcaino -- a drive into the center-field bleachers. After a hit and a walk, in came Chamberlain.

"He was the difference," Toronto manager John Gibbons said.

Notes

  • Mussina allowed three runs and seven hits in seven innings, improving to 23-11 against Toronto.
  • Stairs reached 20 homers for the sixth time, the first since 2003 with Pittsburgh.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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New York catcher Jose Molina tags out Toronto's Gregg Zaun in the fourth inning.  (AP)
New York catcher Jose Molina tags out Toronto's Gregg Zaun in the fourth inning. (AP)

Players of the Game
New York

J. Molina
AB 4
R 1
H 3
HR 0
RBI 3
Toronto

M. Stairs
AB 4
R 2
H 2
HR 1
RBI 2
 
Toronto Blue Jays
Reed Johnson, RF5000031 .234
Russ Adams, 3B4000030 .277
Alex Rios, CF3110100 .297
Matt Stairs, DH4222010 .296
Aaron Hill, 2B4120000 .284
Gregg Zaun, C2000202 .247
    Hector Luna, PR-1B0000000 .208
Adam Lind, LF4112013 .233
Curtis Thigpen, 1B-C4021000 .229
John McDonald, SS3010003 .247
   a- Lyle Overbay, PH1000010 .241
Totals3459539  
a-struck out for McDonald in the 9th
Batting
2B - Aaron Hill (45, Mussina), Adam Lind (14, Mussina)
HR - Matt Stairs (20, Vizcaino)
RBI - Matt Stairs 2 (61), Adam Lind 2 (37), Curtis Thigpen (8)
2-OUT RBI - Matt Stairs 2 (22)
PK - Alex Rios (1, Mussina)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
DP - Zaun-McDonald
Toronto Blue Jays
Dustin McGowan (L,11-10) 4.1666650 4.07
Brian Tallet 0.2200010 3.28
Brandon League 1100020 6.35
Josh Banks 1211210 4.50
Joe Kennedy 1100110 4.86
WP - Dustin McGowan (13)
Pitches-Strikes - Dustin McGowan 112-66, Brian Tallet 14-8, Brandon League 16-11, Josh Banks 25-15, Joe Kennedy 16-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Dustin McGowan 1-6, Josh Banks 1-1
Batters Faced - Dustin McGowan 24, Brian Tallet 4, Brandon League 3, Josh Banks 7, Joe Kennedy 4
New York Yankees
Johnny Damon, LF4011103 .259
Derek Jeter, SS5021024 .319
Bobby Abreu, RF4120123 .284
Alex Rodriguez, 3B2100312 .312
Hideki Matsui, DH3200215 .287
Robinson Cano, 2B5131011 .303
Melky Cabrera, CF3100135 .281
Doug Mientkiewicz, 1B3011104 .259
Jose Molina, C4133001 .253
Totals337127910  
Batting
2B - Jose Molina (13, Banks)
RBI - Johnny Damon (60), Derek Jeter (68), Robinson Cano (89), Doug Mientkiewicz (23), Jose Molina 3 (17)
2-OUT RBI - Johnny Damon (20), Derek Jeter (37), Doug Mientkiewicz (7), Jose Molina 3 (5)
SB - Derek Jeter (14, 2nd base off McGowan/Zaun)
CS - Bobby Abreu 2 (8, 2nd base by League/Zaun, 3rd base by Kennedy/Thigpen), Alex Rodriguez (4, 2nd base by McGowan/Zaun)
Team LOB - 11
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Melky Cabrera 1
New York Yankees
Mike Mussina (W,11-10) 7733150 4.96
Luis Vizcaino 0.2222211 4.17
Joba Chamberlain (S,1) 1.1000030 0.42
Pitches-Strikes - Mike Mussina 97-65, Luis Vizcaino 21-10, Joba Chamberlain 16-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Mike Mussina 5-9, Joba Chamberlain 1-0
Batters Faced - Mike Mussina 27, Luis Vizcaino 6, Joba Chamberlain 4
Game Information
Attendance - 54983
Game Time - 3:38
Temperature - 75
Umpires - Home - Derryl Cousins, First Base - Ted Barrett, Second Base - Rob Drake, Third Base - Angel Hernandez