NEW YORK -- Carl Pavano said he didn't hear the cheers when he walked off the mound after striking out Alex Rios, the years of fan animosity seemingly turned to adulation in just six short innings.
He did hear Joe Girardi, though, when the Yankees manager made a request."I asked for six innings and I got exactly what I asked for," Girardi said. "He did what he had to do. He went out there and he made pitches."The oft-injured Pavano held down Toronto in his first start at Yankee Stadium since opening day last year, and New York managed just enough offense against A.J. Burnett in a 2-1 victory over the Blue Jays on Friday night.Jason Giambi and Bobby Abreu each drove in a run for the Yankees, who are trying desperately to keep pace with Boston for the AL wild card. They remain six games back with 28 to play.With Chien-Ming Wang still out and Girardi projecting that Joba Chamberlain will return from the disabled list in a relief role, the Yankees are hoping Pavano can hold down a spot in the rotation as they try to avoid missing the playoffs for the first time since 1993."It's good to go out there every fifth game and feel good," said Pavano, who has been limited to 21 starts since signing a four-year contract worth nearly $40 million before 2005 season -- and has bore the brunt of frustrated fans who believe the deal has been a waste."I'm not exactly going out there and being totally dominant," Pavano added. "The guys behind me are making plays."Nevertheless, Pavano (2-0) needed only 72 pitches to make it through six innings and held Toronto to three hits in his second start since returning from Tommy John surgery."After all his injuries, to be able to get two wins this year, I think he feels pretty good," said catcher Ivan Rodriguez, who was teammates with Pavano in 2003 with the Florida Marlins. "I feel pretty good. He's been pitching great."Pavano gave way to a revolving door of relievers, with Mariano Rivera getting the final five outs for his 32nd save. It was the first time Rivera has pitched more than an inning on back-to-back days this season, after going 1 1/3 innings Thursday for a win over the Red Sox."That was a win we had to have," Rivera said. "All these remaining games, we're doing what we have to do."The Yankees drew a tall order in facing Burnett (16-10), a hard-throwing right-hander who has made a career of frustrating the boys in pinstripes.He allowed only seven hits in a complete game, but lost for the first time in four starts this season against New York. His winning streak also ended at six decisions."I'm battling the best I could," Burnett said. "Just the one pitch where the first run scored that was not where I wanted it."The Yankees scratched out both of their runs in the fourth inning, starting with a leadoff single from Johnny Damon that bounced off the foul line painted on the wall in right field.Damon got a poor jump trying to steal second and would have been thrown out had second baseman Joe Inglett held onto the ball as he swiped to tag him on the shoulder. One batter later, Abreu doubled into the gap in left for a 1-0 lead.Alex Rodriguez followed with an infield single, moving Abreu to third, and Giambi hit a shallow fly ball into foul territory down the left field line. Travis Snider made a leaping grab for the out, but Abreu tagged from third and easily beat the throw to the plate.Meanwhile, Pavano was cruising through five shutout innings, at one point retiring 12 straight batters. Even well-hit balls -- and there were many of them -- seemed to drop at the warning track.Snider, the Blue Jays' top prospect making his big league debut, finally doubled with one out in the sixth. Marco Scutaro's clean single up the middle drew Toronto to 2-1.The Blue Jays had a chance to tie it in the eighth, getting a leadoff double from Rod Barajas and a walk from Scott Rolen. Rivera came on with one out and got Inglett to ground into a fielder's choice that sent the tying run to third, and Rivera struck out Scutaro to end the threat."He was throwing strikes. That's what he does," Rios said of the All-Star closer. "That's why he gets people out."
This was the first game at Yankee Stadium in which replay was available, but there were no calls that required it. ... Snider started in left after his contract was purchased from Triple-A Syracuse. The move came after Matt Stairs was designated for assignment Thursday night. ... A light drizzle fell in the fifth and sixth innings but the game was not stopped.