NEW YORK (AP) – Jaret Wright gave the New York Yankees’ depleted rotation another strong start.

Wright won his second straight game since coming back from a shoulder injury, pitching seven sharp innings in a 7-0 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday night that moved New York into a tie for the AL wild-card lead.

Hideki Matsui drove in three runs and Alex Rodriguez reached 100 RBIs with an eighth-inning double. New York, which broke open a close game with a four-run seventh, moved within 31/2 games of idle Boston, the AL East leader, and tied Oakland in the wild-card race.

Pitching at Yankee Stadium for the first time since coming out of an April 23 game because of shoulder pain, Wright (4-2) allowed four hits, three early walks and struck out five. In two starts since he was activated, he has allowed two runs in 13 1-3 innings, a 1.35 ERA, joining Mike Mussina and Randy Johnson to give the Yankees three of their original starting pitchers.

Carl Pavano (shoulder) and Kevin Brown (back) remain sidelined along with fill-in Chien-Ming Wang (shoulder). Johnson, who has a bad back, is winless in four starts since July 26.

Wright walked the bases loaded in the first but retired Gregg Zaun on an inning-ending flyout, then got help when second baseman Robinson Cano threw out Shea Hillenbrand at the plate in the fourth on Zaun’s grounder with the infield in. With runners at the corners in the fifth, Frank Catalanotto grounded into an inning-ending double play.

Rodriguez made a diving backhand stop on Zaun’s grounder to third leading off the seventh. Felix Escalona, playing shortstop to give Derek Jeter a night off to recover from a jammed right thumb, jumped to snare a liner by the next batter, Alex Rios.

Alan Embree, Tanyon Sturtze and Scott Proctor finished the five-hitter.

Scott Downs (1-3) gave up two runs – one earned – and six hits in six innings for Toronto, which lost its fourth straight. Manager John Gibbons was ejected by plate umpire Marvin Hudson in the seventh for arguing after Bernie Williams was called safe at the plate on Matsui’s two-run single.

New York went ahead in the second when Rodriguez doubled, took third on Matsui’s opposite-field single to left and scored on Jorge Posada’s line drive that bounced off the glove of shortstop Russ Adams into short left field for an error.

Matsui added a long sacrifice fly to left-center in the fifth and a seventh-inning single off Pete Walker. Zaun tried to block the plate, but Williams appeared to beat Rios’ throw from right.

Jason Giambi ended an 0-for-21 slide with a single in the fourth and had an RBI single in the seventh off left-hander Scott Schoeneweis, who also allowed a run-scoring single to Escalona.

Notes: The game drew 50,162, ending the Yankees’ streak of consecutive sellouts at 22. New York has sold out 33 of 62 home dates and is on pace to draw a team-record 4.03 million fans, assuming no dates are lost to rainouts. … Tino Martinez ran for Giambi in the seventh, his 2,000th major league appearance. … Toronto was blanked for the ninth time, tying Cleveland and Oakland for the AL lead.

AP-ES-08-22-05 2208EDT


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