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Blue Jays drop 16th in row at Yankee Stadium, 6-4

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NEW YORK (AP) — The best thing for the Toronto Blue Jays about Thursday night’s game was that it was their last one at Yankee Stadium until July 25.

David Phelps pitched seven strong innings, Carlos Beltran drove in two runs and the New York Yankees won 6-4 for their 16th consecutive home victory over Toronto.

“Hey, if you’re going to play in prime time, you’ve got to perform on the big stage and we didn’t do it,” manager John Gibbons said. “We’re fully capable of doing it. We just didn’t do it. It’ll be definitely good to move on.”

Melky Cabrera and Edwin Encarnacion hit two-run homers for the Blue Jays, who have lost nine of 12 and were swept for the first time since Sept. 10-12 last season by the Los Angeles Angels. Toronto has dropped 25 of 27 at Yankee Stadium dating to 2011 and hasn’t won in the Bronx since Aug. 29, 2012.

Headed to Cincinnati for an interleague series this weekend, the struggling Blue Jays shuffled their rotation. They will call up right-hander Liam Hendriks from Triple-A Buffalo to start Friday night and move knuckleballer R.A. Dickey from Friday to Sunday.

“We think it’s important to protect the rotation a little bit,” Gibbons said. “He pitched well for us a couple of outings earlier in the year. Hopefully he gives us a boost, too. … He’ll be here for one start and he’ll go back and it’ll just kind of give those guys a little extra breather.”

Dickey exited last Saturday’s loss in Baltimore with right groin tightness.

“It makes sense to give him another day or two,” Gibbons said.

Jacoby Ellsbury scored twice for the Yankees and hit one of three early sacrifice flies off Drew Hutchison (5-5). New York stole four bases and scratched out its fifth run when Brett Gardner was running as Derek Jeter hit an RBI groundout – preventing an inning-ending double play.

Phelps (3-4) yielded two runs and struck out seven in winning his second straight outing after a four-start skid. The Yankees earned their first three-game sweep at home this season and sliced Toronto’s lead in the AL East to 1 1-2 games.

“They stuck it to us pretty good all three games,” Gibbons said. “We’re just kind of treading water right now but we need to pick it up.”

Citing research by the Elias Sports Bureau, the Yankees said the winning streak against Toronto is their longest at home against one team since a 19-game run vs. Cleveland from June 1960 to April 1962.

With closer David Robertson receiving a rest, Adam Warren got two outs for his second save – ending a rhythm-less game that took 3 hours, 47 minutes. Gibbons was on the field five times in the first six innings for four discussions with the umpires, plus a pitching change.

Phelps equaled his career high with 115 pitches and finished strong. He escaped a jam in the fifth, retired pinch-hitter Adam Lind with two on to end the sixth and then struck out two in a perfect seventh.

The right-hander also picked off Cabrera at second base with two runners on in the first inning and Encarnacion at the plate.

Encarnacion hit his 21st homer in the eighth, a long drive to left off Shawn Kelley that cut it to 6-4.

Yankees hitters ran up Hutchison’s pitch count early, just as they did against fellow youngster Marcus Stroman in the series opener. Kelly Johnson had a sacrifice fly in the second and Beltran added one in the third.

Making his Yankee Stadium debut, Hutchison threw 38 pitches in the second inning and needed 76 to get through three. He was pulled in the fifth trailing 3-2.

“You’ve got to make better pitches,” Hutchison said. “When I got ahead I didn’t make good pitches to put them away, and I fell behind quite a bit, too.”

Beltran hit an RBI double off Aaron Loup, and Brian Roberts stole two bases in the sixth before scoring on Jeter’s groundout. Steve Delabar walked three in the seventh, including Yangervis Solarte with the bases loaded to make it 6-2.

The 23-year-old Hutchison was 3-0 with a 0.31 ERA in his previous four road starts, and 4-1 with a 1.79 ERA away from home this season. But nothing seems to go right for the Blue Jays in the Bronx.

“The next time we come to town we’ve got to change that around a little bit,” Gibbons said.

NOTES: Toronto has seven more games scheduled at Yankee Stadium this season. … Lind had been sidelined since leaving Saturday’s game in Baltimore with a bruised right foot. … Cabrera extended his hitting streak against his former team to 19 games. He has seven homers and 15 RBIs in 21 career games vs. the Yankees. … Blue Jays 3B-2B Brett Lawrie sat out with a swollen left hand after he was hit by a pitch Wednesday night. Juan Francisco played third base, with Steve Tolleson at second.