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NEW YORK – When Mariano talks, Rafael Soriano listens.
The career saves leader was watching when his fill-in gave up a three-run homer in the ninth inning of the Yankees’ extra-inning loss Monday night and had some thoughts. So the injured star sought out Soriano when he visited the clubhouse Tuesday afternoon and gave him some advice.
“‘Why you got to throw too many sliders, when you got a good fastball?’” Soriano said Rivera asked him. “I said, ‘Forget about last night and let me do something different.’”
Soriano stuck to the new plan Tuesday and struck out two in the ninth, closing out a fine home start for Phil Hughes that sent New York to a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
Hughes (13-11) won his sixth consecutive decision at Yankee Stadium, allowing only Adeiny Hechavarria’s first major league homer in seven effective innings. Then he turned it over to David Robertson and Soriano to finish off the four-hitter.
Soriano was not available to reporters after he gave up the go-ahead homer Monday night to Colby Rasmus – on a slider. A day later, the reliever blamed the Yankees’ public relations staff for not telling him the media wanted to talk to him. But he was ready at his locker after notching his 34th save in 37 chances, one of his best outings this season.
“The best day I had all year,” Soriano said.
New York catcher Russell Martin said Soriano appeared to be pitching with “a little anger. He took it out the right way.”
Nick Swisher had an RBI single in the third and Curtis Granderson hit a sacrifice fly in the fourth to help the Yankees to their fifth win in 12 games. They handed Ricky Romero (8-12) his 11th straight loss and beat him for the third time during his winless skid.
The left-hander has not won in 12 starts since June 22.
With sluggers Mark Teixeira out after straining his left calf Monday and Alex Rodriguez sidelined since late July because of a broken hand, manager Joe Girardi put Yankees newcomer Steve Pearce in the No. 4 spot in the lineup because he has decent numbers against lefties. Pearce was acquired Monday from the Houston Astros for cash.
Meanwhile, Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista will have season-ending surgery to stablize a tendon in his left wrist.
Bautista was initially injured in an at-bat against the Yankees on July 16. He tried to give rest and rehab a try before returning last Friday but said the tendon was moving around too much.