Given multiple chances to take control of a very important game the Yankees did what they have done far too many times this year: failed to hit in the clutch.

Little did the Yankees know when they scored two runs in the opening inning against struggling lefty Ricky Romero it would be the last time they dented home plate.

"It wasn't a good game for us,'' Andy Pettitte said of the 3-2 loss to the lowly Blue Jays in front of an announced Rogers Centre crowd of 36,139. "When you see the center fielder's number all game it's not a good game for the pitcher. We could have added [runs] on. We need to play good.''

The loss sliced the Yankees' AL East lead over Baltimore to one-half game going into the Orioles' game last night against the Red Sox. A victory would have put the Yankees and Orioles in a tie with four games remaining.

"We had to take advantage of the opportunities we had, and we didn't,'' said Girardi, whose lineup went 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10 runners. "We had a chance to blow the game open, and we didn't. It's not a good loss, but we will play better tomorrow.''