<
>

Blue Jays win Gibbons' debut as manager

NEW YORK (AP) -- Just two starts into his career with the New
York Yankees, Esteban Loaiza's spot in the rotation is in jeopardy.

Gabe Gross connected off Loaiza for his first major league home
run, Josh Towers took a shutout into the seventh inning and the
Toronto Blue Jays won in John Gibbons' first game as manager,
beating New York 5-4 Monday to stop a five-game losing streak.

"Everybody says the pressure, the pressure," said Loaiza,
acquired from the Chicago White Sox for Jose Contreras on July 31.
"Wearing the Yankee uniform and the pinstripes I think is a little
bit more heavy than just when you get traded from Pittsburgh to
another team."

Loaiza (9-6) allowed his 26th homer of the season, third in the
AL behind Jamie Moyer (31) and Bartolo Colon (29). As soon as
Gross' two-run drive down the right-field line hit the top of the
wall and bounced over in the sixth inning, giving Toronto a 5-0
lead, the crowd of 49,853 began booing Loaiza.

"They're not playing the game. They don't know what is going
on," Loaiza said. "I really don't pay attention to fans that much
until the end."

He allowed five runs -- four earned -- and 10 hits over six
innings after giving up five runs in six innings last week against
Oakland. Following superb eight-innings starts by Kevin Brown,
Javier Vazquez, Orlando Hernandez and Jon Lieber, and with Mike
Mussina due to come off the disabled list in the next week or two,
Loaiza is pitching to stay out of the bullpen.

His next start is in Seattle, where he makes his fourth attempt
for career win No. 100.

"He's going to start Saturday and we'll see what we see,"
Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "I know there's a lot more there
than we saw today."

Only Brown, Mussina and Vazquez are certain to remain in the
rotation.

"There are no guarantees," Torre said. "We're going to do
what we think is going to work for us to start with, and then if
something changes our mind, we'll make adjustments."

Loaiza's fastball has been clocked at 91 mph, down 3-4 mph from
when he went 21-9 last year, and his cutter also is down 1-2 mph.
Pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre has been working with him to square
his front shoulder toward the plate in his windup.

"It seemed like when he got in a little bit of trouble, he
didn't have the same aggressiveness maybe that he had from the
windup," Stottlemyre said. "But that's a fairly normal thing."

In Toronto's first game since firing manager Carlos Tosca on
Sunday and replacing him with Gibbons for the rest of the season,
the last-place Blue Jays (48-64) won the finale of the four-game
series.

Bernie Williams hit a two-run homer in the seventh off Towers,
and Hideki Matsui added a two-run drive in the ninth off Jason
Frasor. Jorge Posada then walked, but Frasor retired Williams on a
flyout, threw a called third strike past John Olerud and got
pinch-hitter Ruben Sierra to ground into a forceout, earning his
15th save in 16 chances.

"It was a lot of fun," Gibbons said. "I'm not putting
anything on wins and losses. I just want to see the team play
better and build some momentum going into next season."

Towers (7-4) won for the fifth time in six starts, giving up
just three hits before Posada doubled in the seventh and Williams
hit his 14th homer, his second in two days. Towers, who beat New
York for the first time in four career decisions, allowed five hits
in seven innings.

Toronto, which had 12 hits, took a 2-0 lead in the second when
Chris Woodward hit an RBI single and scored from first when Reed
Johnson singled to right, Kenny Lofton bobbled the ball for one
error, and Enrique Wilson dropped the relay for a second error.
Lofton made the first outfield start of his career in a position
other than center.

"It's a little different," Lofton said. "You've got to think
about which way the ball is cutting on you."

Carlos Delgado's sacrifice fly in the fifth and Gross' homer
boosted the score to 5-0.

New York, which had won five straight and eight of nine, headed
to Texas for the start of a nine-game trip. The AL East leader will
play 16 of its next 19 games on the road before returning home for
20 of its final 32.

"I think it's the worst schedule in the nine years I've been
here," Torre said.

Game notes
Gibbons was 3-0 last year as acting manager when Tosca
attended his daughter's college graduation and served a one-game
suspension. The Elias Sports Bureau, baseball's statistician,
considered Monday's game to be Gibbons' official debut as a major
league manager. He became the first visiting manager to make his
debut at Yankee Stadium since Boston's Butch Hobson in 1992 and the
first in midseason since Billy Hitchcock was Detroit's interim
manager for one game in 1960. ... Mussina's rehabilitation start
was moved to Wednesday at Triple-A Columbus instead of Tuesday at
Class-A Tampa because rain was forecast in Florida.