TORONTO (AP) — The New York Yankees' hitters aren't exactly at their best on the eve of a big series with the Boston Red Sox.
Marco Estrada and two relievers combined on a six-hitter, Jose Bautista hit a solo home run and the Toronto Blue Jays blanked New York 4-0 on Thursday night.
The Yankees, who host the AL East-leading Red Sox for three games this weekend, have scored more than three runs just twice in their past nine games. Boston leads New York by 4 ½ games.
"We're definitely going through a rough moment right now," catcher Gary Sanchez said through a translator. "We've got to keep working and hopefully we're going to improve."
New York had 11 runs and 17 hits in Wednesday night's victory, but couldn't come through in the finale, and was held scoreless for the third time this season.
"We haven't been as consistent the second half," manager Joe Girardi said. "The guys are working at it. There's early BP, they're doing their cage work, they're doing everything. It's just been a little bit of a struggle."
The Yankees put at least one runner in scoring position in five of Estrada's seven innings, but couldn't break through against the veteran right-hander, who came in 0-5 with a 7.39 ERA since beating Texas on May 27.
"We just couldn't square him up when we had guys in scoring position," Girardi said.
New York finished 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position.
Estrada (5-7) won for the first time in 13 starts. The right-hander came in 0-5 with a 7.39 ERA since beating Texas on May 27.
"I don't think he could be any better than tonight," manager John Gibbons said. "He held them in check pretty good."
Ryan Tepera worked the eighth and Roberto Osuna finished.
Bautista hit a two-out drive off Chasen Shreve in the seventh. It was his 36th career homer against New York, breaking a tie with Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria for the most by an active player.
Making his second start for the Yankees, Sonny Gray (6-7) allowed three runs, two of them earned, in six innings. He walked four and struck out six. Acquired from Oakland at the trade deadline, Gray lost at Cleveland in his New York debut.
"I just gave them too many free passes and I just didn't throw enough strikes, definitely not enough quality strikes," Gray said.
Garrett Cooper singled to begin the fifth and Ronald Torreyes walked but Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks both flied out before Aaron Judge struck out looking.
Judge has fanned at least once in 27 straight games, the longest streak in Yankees history.
Activated off the 10-day DL before the game, Hicks went 0 for 5 in his first game since June 25.
Ezequiel Carrera hit a one-out double in the second, advanced to third on an errant pickoff throw by Gray and scored on a short grounder by Ryan Goins. Gray tried using his glove to scoop the ball to catcher Gary Sanchez, but Carrera slid in just ahead of the tag.
Josh Donaldson hit a two-out RBI single in the third and Kevin Pillar added a two-out RBI single in the fourth. Pillar had gone 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position in August before his hit.
GETTING THE CALL
Gibbons said RHP Chris Rowley will be promoted from Triple-A Buffalo to start against Pittsburgh on Saturday. Rowley went 3-4 with a 2.82 ERA in 10 games at Buffalo, including six starts.
Gray is 1-5 in eight road starts this season.
Yankees: Girardi said there's "a really good possibility" rookie LHP Jordan Montgomery will be recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to start in place of left-hander CC Sabathia (right knee) against Boston on Sunday night. ... New York put OF Clint Frazier (left oblique) on the 10-day DL, retroactive to Wednesday.
Blue Jays: RHP Taylor Cole (broken right foot) was placed on the 10-day DL and RHP Chris Smith was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo. Cole was injured by a comebacker in his major league debut Thursday. ... DH Kendrys Morales (illness) was scratched from the lineup. Bautista moved from RF to DH and Carrera started in right. OF Nori Aoki (illness) was unavailable.
Yankees: LHP Jaime Garcia (5-8, 4.49) starts the opener of a three-game series against Boston. Garcia lost his New York debut at Cleveland last week, allowing six runs, five earned, in 4 2/3 innings. LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (4-3, 4.08) starts for the Red Sox.
Blue Jays: RHP Marcus Stroman (10-5, 3.17) starts the opener of a three-game series against Pittsburgh. Stroman is 2-0 with a 2.50 ERA in his past six starts. RHP Jameson Taillon (6-5, 4.60) starts for the Pirates.
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