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TOR@OAK: Romero hurls seven frames of one-run ball

The Yankees have scuffled to an 8-12 record in their last 20 games, with their lead in the American League East dropping from 10 games to five before the Orioles' game against the Royals on Thursday night.

That's not to say the Bronx Bombers are lacking confidence going into a three-game series at Toronto that starts on Friday night.

"We've got 162 games, and we know it's only August," center fielder Curtis Granderson said before the club's 4-3 victory over the Tigers on Thursday afternoon. "A lot of games to play, a lot of games in our own division to play, and I think everybody's just very realistic of knowing that the season doesn't end today."

A large chunk of those division games will come against the Blue Jays. Of the teams' 18 contests this season, 13 still remain on the schedule, with the Yankees holding a 3-2 edge so far. The first of those matchups will pit New York's Freddy Garcia against Toronto's Ricky Romero.

Garcia is 5-5 with a 5.00 ERA this season, but his performance has picked up over the seven starts since he returned from a stint in the bullpen. The veteran right-hander owns a 3.95 ERA and 31-to-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio during that span.

Garcia walked four and struck out two in five innings against the Mariners on Sunday, but he still held Seattle to two runs and picked up a win.

"Freddy's been able to keep us in games," manager Joe Girardi said. "That's what he's done, and that's what he did all of last year for us, and did a good job. He's kind of picked up from where he left off. He got off to a tough start this year, but he's been good for us."

The season has been a trial for Romero, who has lost his past seven decisions to drop to 8-8. His 5.47 ERA compares unfavorably to last year's 2.92 mark.

The lefty walked four against five strikeouts on Saturday at Oakland, but he gave up only one run on three hits. Romero also lasted seven innings a day after a 15-inning affair taxed Toronto's bullpen.

"I told myself today after working that marathon last night, got to grind it out and get as deep as possible," Romero said. "I'm happy I was able to do that."

Yankees: Teixeira overcoming wrist issues
Mark Teixeira started at first base on Thursday and smacked his 21st home run of the season, making him 5-for-12 over his past three games.

Teixeira missed two games last week with a sore left wrist but has started each of the past seven days since Aug. 3. Girardi said he checks with Teixeira daily about his health.

"To say he's 100 percent, I'm sure there's other things that ache too -- it's that time of the year -- but he says he's good," Girardi said. "We need him. He's very important to the middle of our order and our defense."

• Girardi said catcher Russell Martin has, "swung the bat a lot better, the way we feel he's capable of," since he and hitting coach Kevin Long started working at it the day before the All-Star break. Through 21 second-half games, Martin is sporting a .788 OPS.

Blue Jays: Lawrie joins crowded DL
The Blue Jays made third baseman Brett Lawrie their latest addition to the disabled list on Thursday, placing him on the 15-day DL with a strained right oblique that first bothered him during an at-bat in Oakland on Aug. 3.

Lawrie had been getting treatment but wasn't improving rapidly enough to avoid becoming his team's 15th player to hit the DL this season. The move was made retroactive to Aug. 4.

"This way, it gives him another eight days to address the situation, let the symptoms completely clear up, rather than risking further injury if he were to get back into a game too soon," manager John Farrell said.

Rookie Adeiny Hechavarria will continue to start at third base in place of Lawrie, who is batting .282 with a .742 OPS, nine home runs and 40 RBIs.

• Toronto is 28-23 at Rogers Centre as it begins a 10-game homestand.

Worth noting
• Garcia has pitched only one inning (in relief) against the Blue Jays this season. He owns a 6.89 ERA in nine career starts at Rogers Centre.

• The Yankees have tagged Romero for a 5.37 ERA in 11 starts. Romero surrendered a career-high 12 hits in six innings while taking the loss on July 18 in New York.

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