Yankees get money's worth from Pavano
NEW YORK - Carl Pavano said he didn't hear the cheers when he walked off the mound after striking out Alex Rios, the years of fan animosity seemingly turned to adulation in just six short innings.
He did hear Joe Girardi, though, when the Yankees manager made a request.
"I asked for six innings and I got exactly what I asked for," Girardi said. "He did what he had to do. He went out there and he made pitches."
The oft-injured Pavano held down Toronto in his first start at Yankee Stadium since Opening Day last year, and New York managed just enough offense against A.J. Burnett in a 2-1 victory over the Blue Jays last night.
Jason Giambi and Bobby Abreu each drove in a run for the Yankees, who are trying desperately to keep pace with the Red Sox for the American League wild card. They remain six games back with 28 to play.
With Chien-Ming Wang and Joba Chamberlain still injured, the Yankees are hoping Pavano can hold down a spot in the rotation as they try to avoid missing the playoffs for the first time since 1993.
"It's good to go out there every fifth game and feel good," said Pavano, who has been limited to 21 starts since signing a four-year contract worth nearly $40 million before the 2005 season - and has bore the brunt of frustrated fans who believe the deal has been a waste.
"I'm not exactly going out there and being totally dominant," Pavano added. "The guys behind me are making plays."
Nevertheless, Pavano (2-0) needed only 72 pitches to make it through six innings and held Toronto to three hits in his second start since returning from Tommy John surgery.
Pavano gave way to a revolving door of relievers, with Mariano Rivera getting the final five outs for his 32d save. It was the first time Rivera has pitched more than an inning on back-to-back days this season, after going 1 1/3 innings Thursday against the Red Sox.
"That was a win we had to have," Rivera said.
Burnett (16-10) allowed only seven hits in a complete game, but lost for the first time in four starts this season against New York.