NEW YORK (AP) — CC Sabathia has a history of mastering the Mariners, no matter who is behind the plate.
Sabathia pitched a three-hitter and struck out 10, dominating the Mariners as usual while leading the New York Yankees to a 6-3 victory Friday night that stopped Seattle’s seven-game winning streak.
“CC is a winner. Very seldom do I have to worry about CC,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Eric Chavez hit a two-run homer and Curtis Granderson had a two-run single off Kevin Millwood, sending the AL East leaders to their second consecutive win following a 3-9 slide.
Sabathia (11-3) rebounded from a rocky start against Boston with another overpowering performance against his favorite foe. Pitching in the sort of thick humidity that he’s always enjoyed, the big lefty improved to 8-0 with a 1.20 ERA in his past eight starts against the Mariners.
“I know today they came out really aggressive. They do have a lot of lefties in their lineup, and that tends to work in my advantage,” Sabathia said.
Russell Martin was behind the plate for New York after backup Chris Stewart caught Sabathia’s previous 16 starts.
“I’ve been paying attention to what he’s been doing. Even though I don’t play, I watch how he’s attacking hitters,” Martin said. “I wanted to make sure he had a good start today. I’m glad we put that behind us.”
Girardi had said he planned to reunite Martin and Sabathia when he thought the time was right.
“It’s just nice to get behind there with the ace,” Martin said. “It felt pretty natural. I was maybe a little nervous before the game.”
Ichiro Suzuki started a rally against his former team, and the Yankees helped Sabathia improve to 4-0 in his last seven outings.
Going into the ninth, he had given up only Casper Wells’ solo homer in the fourth and Miguel Olivo’s eighth-inning double. But he walked Brendan Ryan to start the inning before Dustin Ackley drove his eighth homer deep into the seats in right.
Girardi came out for a quick chat with Sabathia, who retired the next three batters as the crowd of 45,872 chanted “CC! CC!” Sabathia threw 72 of 103 pitches for strikes in his 35th career complete game and second this season.
“I told him, ‘Let’s go. Let’s get through this inning,”’ Girardi said. “I wanted to make sure how he felt.”
Dating to May 2006, Sabathia has yielded no more than one earned run in nine of 11 starts against Seattle. The last time he faced the Mariners, he whiffed a career-high 14 on July 26 last season.
The six-time All-Star and 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner is 12-4 in 20 career starts against the Mariners, who are managed by his former skipper in Cleveland, Eric Wedge.
“There weren’t opportunities to be had, really,” Wedge said. “CC was outstanding _ as good as I’ve seen him. He had everything working. I think he beats anybody tonight with what he was throwing out there.”
Last in the AL West, the Mariners had won 13 of 17 and were trying for their first eight-game winning streak in five years. They began a nine-game trip that also takes them to Baltimore and Los Angeles.
Still speedy at age 38, Suzuki opened the third by beating out a dribbler that was picked up by an off-balance Millwood (4-9) between the mound and third base. Martin doubled on an 0-2 pitch and both runners scored when Granderson singled to center on Millwood’s next delivery.
“You could see pretty early we weren’t going to be able to give up many runs, if any, to have a chance,” Millwood said. “Didn’t pitch good enough.”
The 37-year-old right-hander held the Yankees in check, however, and was one out from getting through the sixth inning unscathed when Chavez hit a high fly ball to right. It fell just beyond a leaping Eric Thames and hit the cement ledge right behind the fence, maybe 320 feet from home plate.
Thames said the ball was deflected by a fan’s glove as he tried to reach over the wall and snare it.
“I thought he was going to catch it,” Chavez said.
After returning to the dugout, Chavez and Mark Teixeira shared a laugh.
“He was talking today: ‘I feel like I need a cheap one,”’ Teixeira said with a smile. “He got it.”
Chavez, who has been using teammate Andruw Jones’ bat, became the ninth Yankee with at least 10 homers this season _ one shy of the club record set in 1998.
Robinson Cano and Raul Ibanez both added an RBI single in the seventh against the Seattle bullpen. Carter Capps faced three hitters in his major league debut, retiring only Derek Jeter on a sacrifice bunt.
NOTES: Teixeira went 1-for-4 in his return to the lineup after missing two games with a sore left wrist. — Jayson Nix replaced Chavez at 3B in the ninth after his ankle began to bother him. Chavez was hit by a pitch on the ankle last weekend. “I don’t think it’s anything serious,” he said. — Granderson batted leadoff for the fourth time this season. Jeter was dropped to No. 2. — Mariners ace Felix Hernandez (9-5, 2.79 ERA) pitches Saturday against RHP Hiroki Kuroda (10-7, 3.28). Hernandez is 5-0 with a 1.60 ERA in his last nine starts.
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