New York Yankees' Didi Gregorius, right, is greeted by Mark Teixeira (25) after scoring on an infield hit by Jacoby Ellsbury against the Toronto Blue Jays during the seventh inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 24, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Julie Ja
Julie Jacobson
May 24, 2016

NEW YORK (AP) After their worst start in a quarter-century, the New York Yankees allowed themselves a moment to exhale: For the first time since the second week of the season, they're back at .500.

A resurgent Nathan Eovaldi combined with his bullpen on a two-hitter to win his fifth straight decision, and the Yankees beat the Toronto Blue Jays 6-0 Tuesday night to extend their winning streak to six games.

''It's a milestone for us,'' Chase Headley said. ''When things are going bad, you set your sights to get back to .500 and then you go from there. We've had to play really good baseball to get back here, but we're here and now we've got to keep going, keep building.''

Carlos Beltran homered off knuckleballer R.A. Dickey and drove in New York's first two runs. Having dropped as many as eight games under .500, the Yankees (22-22) won for the 13th time in 18 games and evened their record for the first time since they were 4-4 on the morning of April 15. New York had not strung together this many wins since last June 1-9.

''There's no doubt that we played horrible the first month,'' Beltran said. ''We were able to fight through it as a team and turn it around.''

Eovaldi (5-2), whose fastball velocity trails only the Mets' Noah Syndergaard among big league starting pitchers, improved to 5-0 with a 2.92 ERA in his last six starts and has allowed one run and three hits over 12 innings in his last two outings. He gave up two hits over six-plus innings in this one, escaping trouble in the second when, with two on, Kevin Pillar hit into a forceout and Darwin Barney struck out.

''After the third inning, I felt a lot better. I was able to locate the ball inside,'' said Eovaldi, who shifted more to his splitter as the game went on.

With New York ahead 2-0, Dellin Betances relieved after Troy Tulowitzki's leadoff walk in the seventh. He struck out Jimmy Paredes, retired Pillar on a flyout to the left-field warning track and fanned Barney.

After the Yankees doubled their lead in the bottom half, New York was able to avoid using the remainder of its late-inning trio, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman. Kirby Yates and Luis Cessa finished with an inning each.

Just having the Done BMC bullpen trio since Chapman's return May 9 from a domestic violence suspension has changed the Yankees' mindset.

''That gives us a sense of relief to the pitchers, the starting pitchers, saying, you know what: I don't have to be perfect,'' Beltran explained.

Beltran drove in a first-inning run when he beat Tulowitzki's relay throw from second on a grounder to avoid what would have been an inning-ending double play and allow Jacoby Ellsbury to sprint home from third. Ellsbury tripled leading off when Jose Bautista made an ill-advised attempt for a diving backhand catch, and the ball rolled to the right-field scoreboard.

Beltran homered into the right-field second deck in the fourth, his 10th this season. Austin Romine chased Dickey with an RBI double in the seventh, and Ellsbury followed with a run-scoring infield hit against Joe Biagini. Headley added a sacrifice fly in the eighth, hitting right-handed against switch-pitcher Pat Venditte, and Didi Gregorius had an RBI single.

Following their only off day in a stretch of 40 games in 41 days, the Yankees started a three-game series that will be their only time at home over a 20-game span. New York also is beginning a stretch in which it plays 12 of 13 games against AL East rivals.

Making his 250th major league start, Dickey (2-6) dropped to 1-6 in nine appearances since winning his opener at Tampa Bay. He gave up four runs and five hits in 6 2/3 innings.

New York is winning despite the absence of Alex Rodriguez, who has been sidelined by a hamstring injury for three weeks, and a minimal contribution from Mark Teixeira, who has two RBIs since April 26.

''We were struggling mightily for a while there,'' manager Joe Girardi said. ''So you get those going, and you've really got something.''

TRAINER'S ROOM

Yankees: Starting a rehab assignment at Double-A Trenton, Rodriguez was 2 for 4 with a pair of singles and an RBI. He is likely to be activated by Friday. ... RHP Luis Severino (strained right triceps) is to start Sunday for Class A Tampa.

UP NEXT

RHP Ivan Nova (3-1) is slated to start for the Yankees on five days' rest, and Marco Estrada (1-2) goes to the mound for the Blue Jays. Nova is 2-0 with a 1.65 ERA in three starts since joining the rotation.

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