TORONTO -- The Yankees withstood what manager Joe Girardi described as a hiccup in the eighth inning to win a game that should have never been as close as it was.
But a win is a win, and despite needing extra innings to finish the job, the Yankees have won five of six games and have a series sweep of Toronto on their minds.
Vernon Wells scored the go-ahead run as New York put a pair across the plate in the 11th inning on a throwing error by Blue Jays reliever Aaron Loup to drop Toronto, 5-3, in front of a sellout crowd of 46,095 at Rogers Centre on Saturday.
After Wells and Francisco Cervelli started off the frame with back-to-back singles, Ichiro Suzuki laid down a sacrifice bunt that Loup fielded before throwing it away when trying to get the lead runner at third. The ball sailed into left field, allowing the Yankees to break open the tie game and take a two-run lead.
"I was shocked," Wells said about Loup coming to third on the play. "You know what? You get in the moment and you make an aggressive play like that, and sometimes it works out. You look great when it works out, and bad when it doesn't."
This game didn't seem like it was going to be much of a contest, as New York was cruising all game and appeared on its way to an easy victory until starter Hiroki Kuroda exited the game.
Kuroda left with one on and one out in the eighth, up 3-0, for David Robertson, which is when Toronto climbed back into the game.
Robertson allowed a two-out RBI single to Rajai Davis -- a run that was charged to Kuroda -- before Melky Cabrera drove a 2-2 pitch up the middle to score two and tie things up at 3.
It was an uncharacteristic day for Robertson, who entered the contest without allowing a run over five appearances this season. Robertson's control is what did him in, he believes, as he issued his first two walks of the season and gave up the decisive hit when he was up, 0-2, in the count.
Girardi said Robertson has to make a better pitch there, and Robertson didn't disagree.
"Thank goodness we came back and won," Robertson said. "It was a bad outing but ... I can smile about it now, but I was pretty mad with myself earlier."
There was no such drama in the 11th, as closer Mariano Rivera came in and finished off the Blue Jays to record his fifth save of the season.
Kuroda, who deserved the win but settled for a no-decision, threw 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball, while surrendering three hits, walking one and striking out a season-high seven batters. The Japan native, coming off a shutout, continued a recent string of dominance with another superb outing. Colby Rasmus' run scored in the eighth snapped a string of 20 1/3 scoreless innings for Kuroda, dating back to his April 8 outing in Cleveland.
After allowing a first-inning double to Cabrera, Kuroda sat the next 10 consecutive batters down before issuing a fourth-inning walk. That didn't faze him, however, and after Cabrera's double, the Blue Jays didn't record another hit until the sixth inning.
Kuroda had swing-and-miss stuff all game, thanks in large part to a slider he attacked Toronto's right-handed bats with, Girardi said. He pounded the zone, throwing first-pitch strikes to 18 of the 25 batters he faced and generated 14 swinging strikes, his most this season.
The right-hander, who followed up a strong outing from Andy Pettitte on Friday with one of his own, has struck out 12 and walked just one over his last two starts.
"Our pitching, honestly, has been our backbone -- [our] starting pitching," said Wells, who had three of New York's 11 hits. "It's been fun to play behind those guys."
Kuroda wasn't slowing down even when he was pulled at 108 pitches, but Girardi said he has to be mindful of his age.
"We have to remember that he's not 25 either anymore," Girardi said about the 38-year-old.
Wells provided Kuroda with an early lead by hitting a solo homer, his fifth of the season, off Blue Jays starter Mark Buehrle in the second inning. Wells drilled a 3-2 offering from Buehrle off the foul pole in left field for his second homer in as many nights against his former team.
The left fielder has had great success against Buehrle during his career, batting .500 with two home runs over 46 at-bats.
"He's a guy who throws strikes, and I'm usually a guy who is swinging often, so I've gotten a few to fall in," Wells said. "We talk to each other back and forth. We are two old guys that have been around a long time and have had to face each other several times, so we have fun with it."
Kevin Youkilis, who left the game in the sixth inning with lower back tightness, added a two-run single in the fifth that put New York ahead, 3-0.
Youkilis, who struck out in his first two at-bats, was not going to be fooled by Buehrle again, as he hit a screamer at third baseman Brett Lawrie, who was unable to field the line drive cleanly and watched the ball head into left field.
"That's a break for us," Girardi said.
Buehrle lasted seven innings, allowing three runs on eight hits while striking out a season-high seven batters.
"It was unfortunate that we lost the game today, but overall, I felt great," Buehrle said.
New York, which improved to 9-0 when holding its opponent under four runs, will turn the ball over to Ivan Nova for the sweep attempt Sunday.
Chris Toman is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.