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NYY@OAK: Hughes fans six over 7 2/3 of two-run ball

The Yankees are riding atop the contentious American League East for their longest stretch since 2009, and they have a successful track record against the rival Blue Jays partially to thank.

Toronto, which has lost five of the seven meetings between the two clubs this season, will look to avoid a three-game sweep in the series finale on Sunday at Rogers Centre in Toronto.

New York -- which will be in sole possession of first place in the AL East for the 61st consecutive day on Sunday -- has won the first two games of this set by a combined margin of 15-6, and has outscored Toronto, 35-22, this season.

Left-hander J.A. Happ (7-10, 4.98 ERA) will try to help the Blue Jays buck that trend on Sunday when he takes the hill for the second time as a starter in a Toronto uniform. In his rotation debut, he went 4 1/3 innings and allowed four runs on seven hits.

"I felt like the two-seamer was working, and felt like I was getting ahead of guys," Happ said afterward. "I don't know how they did some of the hits they had, but they fell and that's why sometimes it's frustrating."

Happ, who made his first four Blue Jays appearances out of the bullpen after being traded from the Astros, was limited to 82 pitches in the last outing, but he should have a longer leash against the Yankees.

New York will counter with right-hander Phil Hughes, who took the loss in his last outing, surrendering four runs and eight hits in also just 4 1/3 frames against Detroit on Tuesday. It was a two-run Miguel Cabrera double off the left-field fence in the fifth inning that was the game-breaker at Comerica Park.

"I tried to go to a breaking ball there in the fifth, and he stayed on it pretty good," Hughes said. "It was up over the plate a little bit. He's one of the best hitters in the game for a reason."

It was a rare hiccup over a long stretch of success in the last two months for Hughes, who is 8-4 with a 3.03 ERA in his last 12 starts.

New York has won four in a row, while Toronto has dropped five straight. The Yankees have won 11 of the last 15 meetings between the two clubs dating back to 2011.

Yankees: Chavez on a roll
• Third baseman Eric Chavez is hitting .467 (14-for-30) with nine runs, two doubles, four home runs and nine RBIs over his last nine games. In that span, he has four multihit games.

• After a five-RBI game on Friday night, outfielder Ichiro Suzuki was held out of Saturday's lineup, but he did make an appearance as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning.

"We had it planned out and we kind of stuck to it," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said about the decision to rest him. "It's a day game after a night game, he hasn't had a day off since we've had him, we've played a lot of games. So just figured give him a day off the turf."

Blue Jays: Cooper crushing ball
• In nine games this season, first baseman David Cooper is hitting .286 (10-for-35). Of those 10 hits, six have gone for extra bases (four doubles, two home runs). Both of his long balls have come in the ninth inning, including a game-tying homer in Oakland. He is batting .378 (14-for-37) from the seventh inning on this season.

• Casey Janssen is 14-for-14 in save situations since assuming the closer's role on May 9. Of those saves, he has allowed just seven baserunners over 14 2/3 innings.

Worth noting
• Toronto, which has lost 13 of its last 18, is a season-worst seven games below .500.

• The Yankees are 6-3 into their stretch of playing 20 games in 20 consecutive days. They'll play 17 of their next 30 games on the road. Comments