- Associated Press - Monday, September 21, 2015

TORONTO (AP) - To stay alive in the race for the AL East, the New York Yankees need wins in their next two games against the Toronto Blue Jays.

David Price pitched seven shutout innings, Jose Bautista had two hits and the Blue Jays used a three-run first inning to beat the Yankees 4-2 on Monday night.

Toronto stretched its lead in the AL East to 3 1-2 games in the opener of a three-game showdown between the division’s top teams.

That put the pressure on the Yankees to avoid falling any farther behind with 13 games remaining, including two more against Toronto.

“I think they’re as important as any games we’ve played all year when you talk about trying to win the division,” manager Joe Girardi said.

“You’ve got to keep it close,” Girardi said. “We’re three back in the loss column now. You’re hoping that you could win tonight and get it down to one and we didn’t.”

Price (17-5) improved to 8-1 in 10 starts with Toronto since being acquired in a July 30 trade with Detroit.

“Unbelievable,” manager John Gibbons said. “Trades don’t always work out right. This one has worked out right.”

Facing the Yankees for the fourth time since joining the Blue Jays, Price improved to 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA against New York with Toronto.

“He’s tough, and we know he’s tough,” Girardi said of Price. “We didn’t get many opportunities and the one little one we had we weren’t able to cash in.”

That came in the third, when New York used an error, a single and a walk to load the bases with one out. Alex Rodriguez struck out on a 3-2 pitch after narrowly missing a two-run double on a ball that landed just foul in right, and Price ended the inning by getting Brian McCann to fly out.

“(Price) made his pitches when he had to,” McCann said. “He was good tonight. He was working both sides of the plate, cutting it and sinking it to both sides and keeping guys off balance.”

Those were the first two in a stretch of 14 consecutive outs by Price, who finished his outing by fanning Chase Headley and Greg Bird, then applauded the sellout crowd of 47,648 as he walked off the field.

Roberto Osuna overcame Bird’s two-out solo homer in the ninth to earn his 17th save.

Toronto jumped on Adam Warren (6-7) with a three-run first. Ben Revere singled, Donaldson was hit by a pitch and Bautista grounded an RBI single to center before the runners advanced on a wild pitch. Donaldson scored on Edwin Encarnacion’s RBI groundout and Justin Smoak capped the rally with an RBI double.

Warren said he was “too amped up” in the opening inning.

“I was trying to make the best pitch in the world instead of trusting my stuff,” he said.

Limited to 85 pitches, Warren left after striking out Kevin Pillar to begin the fourth. He allowed three runs and five hits, walked one and struck out five.

Toronto extended its lead to 4-0 on Russell Martin’s bases-loaded sacrifice fly off Andrew Bailey in the seventh.

Aaron Sanchez walked Didi Gregorius to begin the eighth, then left after Dustin Ackley’s single advanced Gregorius to third. Brett Cecil came on and gave up an RBI single to Ellsbury, but escaped the jam by striking out Brett Gardner, Rodriguez and McCann. Cecil called them the three biggest outs of his career.

BIRD IS THE WORD

Bird leads major league rookies with seven home runs in September.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Yankees: RHP Nathan Eovaldi still has inflammation in his right elbow and won’t be able to resume throwing until next week, Girardi said. The delay means Eovaldi’s hopes of being part of a potential playoff rotation are in doubt, but he could pitch out of the bullpen about a week after he resumes throwing. … RHP Masahiro Tanaka (right hamstring) worked out and played catch at Yankee Stadium and remains on track to rejoin the rotation next week, Girardi said.

UP NEXT

Yankees: RHP Luis Severino (4-3, 3.12 ERA) will be facing the Blue Jays for the third time in seven starts. He’s 0-2 with a 9.72 ERA in his previous two meetings with Toronto.

Blue Jays: RHP Marco Estrada (13-8, 3.14 ERA) pitched eight shutout innings to beat Atlanta in his most recent outing. He’s 1-2 with a 4.09 ERA in four starts against the Yankees this season.

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