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Blue Jays 4, Yankees 2

September 8, 1996

NEW YORK (AP) _ Here’s a sign of how badly things have been going lately for the New York Yankees: Even their slump stopper was stumped as to why they’re not winning.

``It’s real disappointing,″ Andy Pettitte said after Sunday’s 4-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. ``We’re not playing up to the way we should be. We’ve got too good of a pitching staff, too good of a bullpen, too good of a lineup.″

Ed Sprague hit two home runs off Pettitte, accounting for all of Toronto’s runs against the league’s only 20-game winner. New York lost for the 11th time in 18 games.

The Yankees’ lead in the AL East was cut to three games _ their smallest edge since June 24 _ over Baltimore, which beat Detroit 6-2. Toronto defeated New York for only the fourth time in their last 21 meetings.

The Blue Jays also became the first team to beat Pettitte in a daytime start. The left-hander had been 11-0 in afternoon games this season and 13-2 following a Yankees loss.

A day after substitute starter Paul Quantrill outpitched David Cone, the Blue Jays made it two in a row as Erik Hanson (12-16) defeated Pettitte (20-8).

``I like our lineup of pitchers and if we keep pitching like this, I have every reason to believe we’ll be OK,″ Yankees manager Joe Torre said.

``We’re just not hitting,″ he said. ``We have to loosen up and swing the bat.″

Sprague hit a three-run homer in the fourth after hitting a solo shot in the second. The second homer, Sprague’s 33rd, came on the first pitch Pettitte threw after a leadoff walk by Juan Samuel and a single by Joe Carter.

It was Sprague’s third multi-homer game this season and the fourth of his career.

``The first time he fell behind me 3-1 and threw a fastball,″ Sprague said. ``I just hit it as hard as I could. The next time up it was a curveball.″

Hanson allowed two runs on eight hits in 6 2-3 innings. After Tim Raines singled two outs in the seventh, there was a 61-minute rain delay.

When the game resumed, Paul Spoljaric replaced Hanson and the Yankees loaded the bases. Tim Crabtree relieved, and Cecil Fielder hit a fly ball that center fielder Otis Nixon caught while sliding on the wet grass.

Mike Timlin pitched the ninth for his 25th save.

Pettitte, pitching on three days’ rest and bidding to match John Smoltz of the Atlanta Braves for the major-league lead with 21 victories, pitched seven innings and allowed six hits.

The Yankees were quiet until the seventh when Bernie Williams led off with a single and Derek Jeter followed with a double down the right-field line. Hanson struck out Jim Leyritz before allowing RBI groundout by pinch-hitter Mike Aldrete.

Hanson’s wild pitch scored Jeter from third for the final New York run.

Notes: Toronto manager Cito Gaston got his 600th career win. ... Alex Gonzalez went 0-for-4, extending his hitless slump to 33 at-bats. ... New York is only 27-30 since the All-Star break. ... Pettitte had been 4-0 in four career starts against Toronto. ... New York second baseman Mariano Duncan was a late scratch because of a migraine headache.

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