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"I was proud of what he did today," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Nova. "He got after it."
Nova's strong showing eased the sting of the news that left-hander CC Sabathia is headed to the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Aug. 9, with pain and inflammation in his elbow.
Sabathia was sidelined after experiencing pain in back-to-back starts.
"The fact that it came back is a little concerning," Girardi said. "We want to wipe it out." Sabathia's injury is not considered serious, and Girardi said he hopes to have the 2007 AL Cy Young winner back in the rotation for an Aug. 24 start at Cleveland.
Derek Jeter had two hits, boosting his AL-leading total to 150 and joining Hank Aaron as the only players to record 17 straight seasons with at least 150 hits.
Jeter said it was an honor to share a mark with Aaron, baseball's former home run king who had 150 hits or more every year from 1955 to 1977.
"What he's done in the game goes without saying," Jeter said of Aaron. "I just try to be consistent."
Rajai Davis had two hits and scored twice, but it wasn't enough as slumping Toronto suffered its fifth consecutive defeat and its 11th loss in 13 games.
Nova came in 0-3 with an 8.36 ERA in five starts since winning at Boston on July 8, but was sharp against an injury-depleted Blue Jays lineup, setting down the first nine batters in order before Davis singled to open the fourth.
Davis took second on a balk and scored on a one-out single by Edwin Encarnacion. A hit batter put Blue Jays at first and second, but Nova escaped further damage by fanning David Cooper and getting Moises Sierra to ground out.
Nova (11-6) allowed two runs and five hits in 7 1/3 innings. He walked one and struck out 10.
Girardi called Nova's performance "very encouraging."
"He threw really well today," Girardi said. "I thought his curveball was very good. For the most part he spotted his fastball pretty well. He threw some good sliders today, it was more consistent than it has been."
Nova changed the grip on his slider after working between starts with pitching coach Larry Rothschild, holding it deeper in his hand.
"It was great," Nova said. "It was right where I wanted it."
Rafael Soriano closed it out in the ninth for his 28th save in 30 chances.
New York managed just Jeter's infield single in the first three innings against Blue Jays left-hander Aaron Laffey, but broke through with a four-run fourth, highlighted by McGehee's first home run as a Yankee.
Mark Teixeira scored from second on Jayson Nix's single to left and McGehee followed with a drive into the second deck in left-center. McGehee hit eight home runs with Pittsburgh before being traded to New York last month.
"We've said all along this a guy who can hit the ball out of the ballpark," Girardi said. "He's taken his walks and he hadn't gotten a lot of hits so it was really good to see."
McGehee acknowledged he'd been pressing since joining the Yankees, but said his drive took the pressure off.
"I could definitely feel myself relax a little bit and started to feel I was just playing ball again," he said.
The Yankees tacked on one more in the sixth when McGehee hit a one-out double and scored on Jeter's ground-rule double to right-center.
Laffey (3-3) had won three of his previous five starts but gave up five runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings. He walked a season-high four and struck out two.
"It's one of those games where you kind of beat your head against the wall," Laffey said. "You pitched real well pretty much the entire game and have one inning wreck the whole outing."
Plate umpire and crew chief Jim Joyce warned Nova and both benches after Escobar was hit on the left elbow by a pitch in the sixth, the second straight at-bat he was hit. New York's Curtis Granderson was hit by a pitch from Laffey in the second.
Escobar, who suffered a sore left elbow, remained in the game defensively for the next two innings but was replaced by Vizquel when his spot came up again in the eighth. X-rays were negative.
- Blue Jays OF Colby Rasmus was held out of the starting lineup after leaving Friday's game with a mild right groin sprain and is expected to miss Sunday's series finale.
- New York OF Ichiro Suzuki was held out of the starting lineup but came on defensively in the ninth.
- Attendance was 45,582, Toronto's third sellout of the season.