NEW YORK -- Ichiro Suzuki had a go-ahead single in the eighth inning, his seventh hit of the day, to help the New York Yankees complete a doubleheader sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays with a 2-1 win Wednesday night that ensured they remained atop the AL East.
Suzuki made a difficult catch with the bases loaded in the eighth inning of the opener to preserve a lead for Andy Pettitte in a 4-2 victory.
New York will end the night with at least a half-game division lead, pending on the outcome of Baltimore’s game against Felix Hernandez and the Seattle Mariners.
The wily outfielder had three hits in the opener batting leadoff in place of Derek Jeter, who rested his sore ankle in the first game of the day-night doubleheader. Jeter started at shortstop for the first time in a week and got his 200th hit on Ricky Romero’s first pitch.
The single to center tied Jeter with Lou Gehrig for most 200-hit seasons for New York with eight.
Rafael Soriano closed both games, notching his 41st and 42nd saves, the first time he saved two in one day.
The Blue Jays, playing their first doubleheader against the Yankees since 1986, were without shortstop Yunel Escobar, who began a three-game suspension for wearing eye black displaying an anti-gay slur written in Spanish during a game last weekend against Boston.
Toronto dropped to 66-81, guaranteeing it will not have a winning record this season.
The Yankees had seven steals in the nightcap, their most in a game in three years.
Cody Eppley (1-2) got one out for his first win since April 27, 2011, for Texas against Toronto.
David Phelps followed Pettitte’s sparkling five-inning return to the mound by pitching into the seventh. He gave up one run and three hits.
Romero remained tied for the Blue Jays record with 13 straight losses and walked five to up his AL-leading total to 99. It was his third game in which he allowed one run and didn’t win -- two no-decisions.
Adeiny Hechavarria’s RBI single in the second after Phelps walked was just the 24th run Toronto has scored in Romero’s last 13 starts.
In the bottom half, Chris Stewart drove in a run with a double to left that bounced over the wall and prevented Suzuki from scoring from first. Suzuki had singled and Nix was thrown out trying to score on a strong throw by center fielder Colby Rasmus. Romero had walked two to set up the tying run.