TORONTO -- It's one step forward, two steps back for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Manager John Gibbons got a fence-finding Jose Bautista back in his lineup Friday night, only to see starter Brandon Morrow (0-2) wobble early on and his defence cough up needless runs in a 9-4 loss to the New York Yankees.
Former Jays Vernon Wells and Lyle Overbay homered to back up a strong pitching performance by veteran Yankee left-hander Andy Pettitte.
"They took it to us with the bats and then Pettitte was really good," Gibbons said in a sublimely pithy assessment of the night.
The Yankees (9-7) pounded out three homers, a triple and six doubles in their 13-hit attack.
"We're just kind of sputtering," Gibbons said of his 7-10 team. "We really haven't been able to get anything going. We've had some well-pitched outings and haven't got a whole lot of offence with them. And then tonight, you fall behind big and the (opposing pitcher) shuts you down pretty good.
"Nothing's come together yet. I think it will, it's just a matter of time. But you know what? It's time to start playing some better baseball, there's no question about it. Because we've got a good team."
The Jays are now in a crucial part of their schedule. Friday marked the start of a stretch that sees the team play 30 of its next 35 games -- starting with 10 straight -- against AL East opposition.
There is much to fix.
The Jays came into the game hitting .229, good for 25th in the majors, although the team ranked ninth in homers with 18.
On the mound, Toronto's much-vaunted pitching staff was 27th with a 4.77 earned-run average.
The Jays, who had seven hits on the night, have now scored just 19 runs in the seven games -- going 3-4 -- since shortstop Jose Reyes went down with an ankle injury in Kansas City.
But Gibbons said the hitting woes can't be attributed to the loss of the all-star shortstop.
"We feel like we can do some damage top to bottom, so we can't lay it all on that," he said.
"One man doesn't make a team. He sure helps, that's for sure," he added. "But you need everybody."
Of concern is the fact that the two runs yielded in the first inning marked the 12th time the opposition has scored first against Toronto, which is 3-9 in those games.
Travis Hafner also homered for the Yankees, winners of eight of their last 10, before 40,028 at the Rogers Centre. It was his fifth of the season.
New York has homered in 13 of its first 15 games and have recorded 25 homers this season. Wells and Overbay, who have accounted for six of those, were greeted with boos but were silenced later by their bats.
-- The Canadian Press