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Jays @ Yankees: Vazquez Back In Starting Rotation

(Sports Network) -- The New York Yankees have solved just about all their problems during a seven-game winning streak that matches the team's longest of the season. The defending world champions will now turn their attention towards getting Javier Vazquez to become an effective starting pitcher once again when they take the field against the Toronto Blue Jays this afternoon.

Vazquez was temporarily removed from New York's rotation after a poor recent stretch in which the veteran hurler went 0-2 with an 8.10 earned run average over four starts. He lasted only three innings in the last of those outings and was rocked for four runs and eight hits -- three of which were homers -- in an August 21 no-decision against light-hitting Seattle.

The offseason acquisition has performed considerably better in a pair of long relief appearances that followed that game. Vazquez delivered 4 1/3 innings of one-run ball in an August 25 matchup against the Blue Jays, then held Oakland to a run and just two hits over 4 2/3 frames to pick up a win this past Monday at Yankee Stadium.

Vazquez was also sharp in his only start against Toronto this season, which took place at the Rogers Centre on June 6. He gave up only a single hit -- a two-run homer to Vernon Wells -- and struck out a season-best nine batters in seven innings to help the Yanks to a 4-3 decision.

In 16 career games (15 starts) versus Toronto, Vazquez is 5-7 with a 3.98 ERA.

The 34-year-old probably won't have to worry about a lack of run support when he toes the rubber today. The Yankees have averaged 7.1 runs per contest over the course of their seven-game surge, which has vaulted the Bronx Bombers 1 1/2 games ahead of rival Tampa Bay for first place in the American League East as well as the best record in baseball.

New York kept up its winning ways with a 7-3 triumph in Friday's opener of this three-game series, with Curtis Granderson going 2-for-3 with three RBI to lead an 11-hit attack.

Ramiro Pena finished 2-for-4 with an RBI single and leadoff hitter Brett Gardner scored three times for the Yankees, who built a 5-1 lead after three innings and sent Toronto starter Brandon Morrow to an early exit in his final assignment of the year.

"The last week or so we've been hitting the ball pretty well and scoring some runs," Gardner stated afterward."

Morrow (10-7), slated to be shut down for the remainder of the season due to an innings limit, surrendered all five early runs on six hits and walked three batters in a shaky three-inning stint.

"It's obviously disappointing to not pitch the way I wanted to pitch in the last [start] of the season," Morrow said. "I've got a lot to build for next year and I'm going to take a lot of confidence into [spring training]."

Yankees rookie Ivan Nova also couldn't come through with a win after failing to last the required five innings, with Kerry Wood (3-4) getting credit for the decision after throwing 1 2/3 innings of relief.

Nova, making his third career start in the majors, permitted three runs on six hits over the first 4 2/3 innings.

Toronto's Travis Snider collected two hits, including a solo homer in the first inning, but that wasn't enough to prevent the Jays from a fourth loss in five games.

The Yankees, on the other hand, will be trying to win eight in a row for the first time since July 17-24, 2009. Standing in their way this afternoon will be Marc Rzepczynski, although the second-year big leaguer didn't pose much of a threat to the AL East leaders a few weeks back.

New York pounded Rzepczynski for six runs in three innings en route to an 11-5 verdict at the Rogers Centre on August 24, with Mark Teixeira, Marcus Thames and Jorge Posada all homering off the left-hander that night. He also served up three homers in a brief start at Yankee Stadium during August of last season, while allowing four runs overall on seven hits in just 3 1/3 innings of work.

Rzepczynski did strike out eight in just 5 2/3 innings in his most recent appearance, which took place Sunday against Detroit, but was also reached for four runs (three earned) in a loss that dropped him to 1-3 in six starts this season.

The 25-year-old is 0-2 with a brutal 10.22 ERA in three lifetime encounters with the Yankees and 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA over four starts since being recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas last month.

Toronto has won seven of 13 meetings with New York so far this season, with the Yankees having taken four of seven bouts between the two divisional foes at home.