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TOR@NYY: Jones hits two homers, drives in four

NEW YORK -- So far -- and, yes, the season is still young -- paying top dollar for a setup man hasn't really worked out for the Yankees. But on the day they learned Rafael Soriano could be out an additional two months, the Yankees saw a couple of their biggest offseason bargains lead them to a series victory over the Blue Jays.

Freddy Garcia (signed to a Minor League contract) had another solid outing, giving up three runs in 6 1/3 innings to move his ERA to 3.26.

And Andruw Jones (making $2 million this season) blasted two homers to give Garcia a comfortable cushion to work with en route to a 7-3 win Wednesday at Yankee Stadium.

Whether contributions from those less expensive acquisitions -- along with Russell Martin and Bartolo Colon -- offset news that the Yankees' struggling $35 million eighth-inning man will miss an additional six to eight weeks with an inflamed elbow ligament is a matter of opinion. But on Wednesday, they gave the Yankees a series-ending victory and some good feelings as they embark on a nine-game West Coast swing.

"[Manager] Joe [Girardi] is looking for the right buttons to push," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said, "and clearly he pushed a great one with Andruw Jones today."

Did he ever.

The Yankees' skipper held Brett Gardner out of the starting lineup, and instead went with Jones, who came through in the second inning with a two-run homer and added another in the sixth that made it 7-1.

With that, Jones notched his first multi-homer game since May 1, 2010 -- which came at Yankee Stadium, but in a White Sox uniform -- and became the first player to accomplish the feat as a member of the home and visiting team in the Bronx.

"Great day for Andruw," Girardi said after there had been so many bad ones recently for the veteran outfielder.

Jones, the 34-year-old five-time All-Star who signed on to be a fourth outfielder, had struggled through sporadic playing time, notching just three hits in his previous 28 at-bats heading into this game.

Then he went 3-for-3 with four RBIs to lead the Yankees to a win.

"I had three swings today, I got three hits, and that's what I'm looking for," said Jones, who was replaced by Chris Dickerson in the seventh inning. "Just trying to make solid contact every time I'm going to get a chance to play, and like I told these guys before, my last 20 at-bats, I wasn't happy with them. So I just kept working with [hitting coach Kevin Long] and trying to get it right, and today was a great day."

The Yankees -- still atop the standings in the American League East -- jumped all over lefty Jo-Jo Reyes early, getting an RBI double from the hot-hitting Curtis Granderson in the first, a two-run homer from Jones in the second and then another two-run homer in the third by Mark Teixeira -- who now has 13 on the year, and four in his last seven games.

That led to Reyes' second three-inning start of the season and a dubious honor. The Blue Jays' starter has now gone winless in his last 28 starts dating back to June 18, 2008, tying the Major League record for most consecutive winless starts, shared by Cliff Curtis (1910-11) and Matt Keough (1978-79).

"I'm not worried about that streak," Reyes said. "When I step on the rubber, all I'm worried about is executing the pitch. ... We had fun with it, but it doesn't get to me. It doesn't bother me."

And nothing seems to bother Garcia.

The 34-year-old had a shutout until getting into some trouble as his pitch count mounted in the sixth and seventh. Still, Garcia notched his fifth quality start in eight tries and went at least six innings for the sixth time this season.

What has he provided for a Yankees team without Phil Hughes?

"Everything we needed and more," Cashman said. "He's allowing us to plug a major hole and answer our prayers."

Garcia has been a pleasant surprise for the Yankees; Mariano Rivera is as much of a sure thing as they come.

After going a week without pitching in a game, Rivera came out for the top of the ninth to make career appearance No. 1,000, making him the 15th reliever in Major League history to accomplish the feat, and the first to do so for one team.

"You have to be blessed and also, you have to be proud of what you do, you have to love what you do, and I do," Rivera said. "I'm proud of what I do, what I represent and proud [of] how I do it."

And with that, the Yankees combated a six-game losing streak by winning seven of their last nine as they venture out for their longest road trip yet.

"A lot better," Girardi said about how he's feeling about his team lately. "Our guys have pitched well, and that's going to be important as we move forward into the summer, and as we get into this trying to win our division. It's going to be extremely important." Comments