By Chad Jennings
TORONTO (AP) — What looked as if it might become a big inning for the Toronto Blue Jays turned into a bust.
After that, New York’s Masahiro Tanaka didn’t give the highest-scoring team in the majors another chance. Tanaka pitched a five-hitter for his first complete game in more than a year, leading the Yankees over the Blue Jays 4-1 Saturday.
The Yankees won their third straight following a five-game skid and extended their AL East lead over Toronto to 1.5 games. The Blue Jays, coming off an 11-game winning streak, lost for the second day in a row to New York.
Pitching at Rogers Centre for the first time since his big league debut in April 2014, Tanaka struck out eight and walked three while helping the Yankees’ taxed bullpen, which was without Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller.
“My mindset was I wanted to go as deep into the game as possible,” Tanaka said through a translator. “I’m just really satisfied that I was able to do that.”
Down 1-0, Toronto loaded the bases with nobody out in the fifth but only managed to score one run on Josh Donaldson’s sacrifice fly. Tanaka escaped by striking out Jose Bautista and getting Edwin Encarnacion to pop up.
“That was the best chance we had,” Toronto’s Dioner Navarro said. “He just outpitched us.”
Yankees manager Joe Girardi called Tanaka’s fifth-inning performance “the key to the game.”
“For him to go through those hitters and only give up the one run was really impressive,” Girardi said.
Marco Estrada (10-7) lost for the first time in four starts, allowing two runs and three hits in six innings. Blue Jays starting pitchers have given up three earned runs or fewer in 19 consecutive starts, eclipsing the team record set in May 1991.
“I guess the line looks pretty good, but I missed a lot of spots,” Estrada said. “I wasn’t my usual self.”
Toronto hadn’t dropped back-to-back games since losing at Seattle on July 26 and at home to Philadelphia on July 28.
“It would be nice to pick one up on the last game of the homestand tomorrow,” Gibbons said.
Carlos Beltran, whose pinch-hit, three-run drive in the eighth inning Friday night gave the Yankees a 4-3 win, homered for the second straight at-bat when he connected in the first.
After Toronto tied it in the fifth, Mark Teixeira hit a go-ahead homer with two outs in the sixth, his 31st.
“Once I hit that home run, I had a feeling (Tanaka) was going to keep it up,” Teixeira said.
New York made it 3-1 against LaTroy Hawkins in the seventh. Beltran doubled off the right field wall and Teixeira lined an RBI single to left.
Jacoby Ellsbury’s RBI single off Aaron Loup in the ninth gave the Yankees a three-run cushion.
Struggling DH Alex Rodriguez, who has two hits in his past 19 at-bats, got the day off. … RHP Ivan Nova, who was hit on the right ring finger by an infield chopper Friday, is expected to make his next start.
RHP Luis Severino (0-1, 2.45 ERA) will make his third career start Sunday. The rookie has received just one run of support in his two starts so far.