Rickey Henderson drove in two runs with three hits, including a home run, and Ed Whitson allowed only three hits in eight innings as the New York Yankees held on for a 5-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays last night.

A turnout of 35,202 in Exhibition Stadium saw the home team's defeat, keeping its East Division lead at 2 1/2 games over Detroit, with third-place New York now 5 1/2 back.

Whitson (4-6), who has allowed a total of four earned runs in his last four starts, walked three and struck out two before being relieved with none out in the ninth.

Dave Righetti got the last three outs, but he gave up three hits, including a run-scoring single by Willie Upshaw and an RBI double by George Bell. Upshaw was tagged out in a rundown after Bell's hit.

Whitson didn't allow a hit until the fifth inning, when Bell sent his 15th homer of the season over the left field fence.

"I reached a point where I was throwing way too many breaking balls," said Whitson of his poor early season before his current run of effectiveness. "I'm a power pitcher and I had to go back to my style and what got me to the major leagues.

"Once we got a few runs tonight, I was able to challenge them with the fast ball and use the changeup. I also had good success with the overhand curve and palm ball."

Named American League player of the month for June during the day, Henderson gave New York a 1-0 lead when he hit Jimmy Key's first pitch of the game over the right field fence for his 10th homer.

Henderson increased the edge to 2-0 in the fourth with a single after Bobby Meacham tripled. New York scored once more off Key (6-3) in the seventh on Meacham's single, a sacrifice, Henderson's infield single and Don Mattingly's fly for his league-leading 54th RBI.

Don Baylor, ending a none-for-17 slump, gave the Yankees decisive breathing room with his 13th homer in the eighth inning and a sacrifice fly in the ninth.