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Yankees, Blue Jays Open Three-Game Series Tonight

(Sports Network) - Alex Rodriguez's quest to become the youngest player to 600 home runs takes him back to the Bronx this evening when the New York Yankees open a three-game set with the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium.

Rodriguez has gone 38 at-bats and 43 plate appearances since hitting No. 599 back on July 22 at Yankee Stadium. Once Rodriguez finally reaches the milestone, he will easily become the youngest player to do so. Babe Ruth hit his 600th at age 36, while Rodriguez turned 35 just last week.

Ruth may have reached the plateau quicker, hitting No. 600 in his 6,921st at- bat, but Rodriguez's pace (8,679 at-bats entering play Monday) trails only that of Barry Bonds (8,212) and eclipses Willie Mays (9,514) and Henry Aaron (10,009).

However, his amount of at-bats between home runs is the longest drought between homers 599 and 600 of the six other members in the club.

"The way I'm swinging now, it's probably going to take a while -- everybody get comfortable," Rodriguez joked this past weekend. "People are asking me about home runs. I'm asking for a hit-by-pitch, infield hit, bunt single, error. I'll get on base anyhow. The home run will come."

Rodriguez did not start on Sunday for New York, but struck out as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning of the Yankees' 3-0 loss to Tampa Bay.

New York lost two of three to the Rays, but still holds a one-game edge on them for first place in the American League East.

CC Sabathia (13-5) went 6 2/3 innings in the start, allowing three runs on eight hits to take the loss. The left-hander has lost two straight starts since winning nine consecutive decisions.

"I didn't think he had great command of his sinker," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Sabathia. "But he found a way to keep the game close and give us a chance."

Getting the call for the Yankees tonight will be righty A.J. Burnett, who has won three of his last four starts and hasn't surrendered a run in either of his last two outings. Burnett scattered seven hits over 6 1/3 scoreless innings to beat the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday to run his record to 9-8, while lowering his earned run average to 4.52.

Burnett, who pitched three seasons for the Jays, is 2-2 against his former team with a 3.61 ERA in six starts.

Toronto will counter with righty Brandon Morrow, who is 7-6 with a 4.62 ERA. Morrow won his second straight start last Monday against Baltimore, as he allowed two runs and five hits in six innings.

Morrow has faced the Yankees 10 times (four starts) and is 1-0 with a 4.03 ERA.

Toronto lost the final two games of its three-game weekend series with the Cleveland Indians, falling 5-4 in Sunday's rubber match at Rogers Centre.

Yunel Escobar, Aaron Hill and Jose Bautista each hit a solo homer for the Blue Jays, who had won six of seven before the current slide. Hill finished with two hits and drove in a pair.

"I feel good. Coming out to the ballpark happy and loose and enjoying this," said Bautista, who leads the majors with 32 home runs. "I'm having an approach and sticking to it and hopefully I can remain consistent for the rest of the year."

Jesse Litsch (1-5) labored through four-plus innings by surrendering six hits, four runs and two walks while striking out a batter and was tagged with the loss.

The Yankees have split their six games with the Jays this season after winning 12 of the 18 matchups between the clubs a year ago.