Yankees shut down by Blue Jays' R.A. Dickey, lose 4th in row

TORONTO -- The New York Yankees might not be in must-win territory just yet, but they sure are getting there in a hurry.

R.A. Dickey pitched seven innings to win his fourth straight decision, Colby Rasmus and Rajai Davis homered and the Toronto Blue Jays beat New York 2-0 on Tuesday night, the slumping Yankees' fourth straight loss.

"We're darn close," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said when asked whether his team faced a must-win situation in its search for a wild-card berth.

New York fell 3½ games behind Texas in the AL wild-card race and lost for the eighth time in 12 games. The Yankees have 11 games remaining.

"It's not good, that's for sure," Yankees starter Andy Pettitte said. "Go into Boston and get swept, then lose the first game here. We're playing terrible and it's not good. It's a bad time to be doing that."

With the season winding down, Girardi is aware his team has almost no margin for error.

"We're getting to where we can't lose much more," Girardi said.

Dickey (13-12) allowed four hits, walked two and struck out eight. The knuckleballer retired the final 11 batters he faced and 15 of the last 16.

"Probably the best we've seen him this year," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.

Dickey said he didn't get discouraged after allowing five baserunners in the first two innings because he knew how much his pitch was moving.

"Even in the first two innings I knew I had a pretty good one," Dickey said. "I just needed to stay the course with it."

Dickey has not lost since the Yankees beat him in the Bronx on Aug. 21. He's 4-0 with a 2.73 ERA in five starts since.

"When he's got the good one going and he's throwing it for strikes, he's as tough as anybody out there," Yankees catcher Chris Stewart said.

Curtis Granderson, who opened the game with a swinging strikeout, agreed with that.

"It was dancing all over the place," Granderson said of Dickey's knuckler. "That's the one thing with a knuckleballer, if you can get the right grip and get the right arm velocity and speed on it, you can make it do some crazy things. He was able to do that tonight."

Sergio Santos pitched the eighth and Casey Janssen finished in the ninth for his 31st save in 33 chances.

Alex Rodriguez returned to New York's lineup after leaving Sunday's loss at Boston in the fifth inning with a strained right calf. He's also dealing with a sore left hamstring suffered in last Tuesday's win at Baltimore. Rodriguez started as the DH, batting second. He finished 0 for 4 and struck out looking twice.

Girardi said Rodriguez came through the game "OK."

"He never said anything," Girardi said.

Rasmus hammered a one-out blast into the second deck off Pettitte in the fourth, his 21st of the season and third in three games.

Rasmus, who sat out Sunday's loss to Baltimore with general soreness, has connected every game since being activated off the 15-day disabled list Friday. He had been out since Aug. 11 with a strained muscle in his left side.

Pettitte (10-10) came in 3-0 with a 1.77 ERA against the Blue Jays this season but couldn't extend his run of dominance against the AL East's last-place team. He allowed one run and six hits in 6 2/3 innings, walked two and struck out five.

"Andy held them down, we just weren't able to do anything," Girardi said.

Davis greeted reliever Shawn Kelley by homering into the second deck on the right-hander's second pitch. For Davis, the home run was his sixth.

Robinson Cano hit a two-out single in the first, his first hit since Friday, and Alfonso Soriano followed with a double. Lyle Overbay walked to load the bases, but Dickey fanned Mark Reynolds for the final out.

New York stranded two more runners in the second when Stewart walked with two outs and Granderson singled him to second. Rodriguez followed with a grounder to short.

"It was unfortunate both of those rallies started with two outs," Girardi said. "We had some opportunities and then after that we didn't really do too much."

Dickey, who threw 51 pitches in the first and second innings, retired 15 of the next 16 Yankees and erased his only mistake, Reynolds' leadoff single in the fourth, on a double play.

Pinch-hitter Adam Lind hit a two-out single off David Robertson in the eighth and tried to score on pinch-hitter Anthony Gose's double, but was thrown out at the plate on a relay from shortstop Brendan Ryan.

Game notes
Toronto was eliminated from wild-card contention when Texas won at Tampa Bay. ... Blue Jays 1B Edwin Encarnacion (left wrist) and LHP Brett Cecil (left elbow) will miss the remainder of the season. Encarnacion is scheduled to undergo surgery. ... Yankees LHP Boone Logan has been diagnosed with bone spurs in his elbow, but will try to pitch through the pain. ... New York C Austin Romine (concussion) was scratched from the starting lineup and replaced by Stewart. ... Janssen celebrated his 32nd birthday.