BOSTON -- CC, as in Can't Cope.
At least not against Boston.
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Not this season.
CC Sabathia, so good this year against just about everyone else in baseball, threw up a third straight clunker against Boston Saturday afternoon in the Yankees' 10-4 loss in front of 37,416 at Fenway Park.
Sabathia (16-6, 2.81 ERA) allowed seven runs (a season worst) and nine hits (his second-highest total of the season) in six innings. Five of the seven runs scored with two outs. It marked the first time since May 8 that he failed to pitch into the seventh.
"When I'm right, I can beat anybody," said a defiant Sabathia, pressed afterward about his issues against Boston. "Just one of those things."
But Sabathia hasn't been right against the Red Sox, who pulled even with the Yankees atop the AL East and snapped their winning streak at eight games. He dropped to 0-4 with a 7.20 ERA against them; he's 16-2 with a 2.11 ERA against teams not from Boston. That has created some unease that the Yankees' ace simply can't beat the team they'll likely have to go through to reach the World Series.
But Sabathia, the first Yankee to lose at least four games to the Red Sox in a season since Pat Dobson in 1975, said such angst shouldn't exist. "I can see if I hadn't beat them in the last three years," Sabathia said, "but I have, so that gives me confidence to know that I can go out and pitch well against this team."
He went 1-0 with a 3.96 ERA in four starts against Boston in 2010 and was 3-1 with a 2.22 ERA against the Red Sox in 2009.
In explaining Sabathia's difficulties, Curtis Granderson said "he's human" and Mark Teixeira said it was a case of baseball's highest-scoring team swinging the bats well. "Give them credit, they pounded him," said Teixeira, who hit his 32nd home run. "They just did a great job."
The lefthander allowed one run in 52/3 innings in his first loss to Boston this year, but in the subsequent three defeats, he gave up 19 earned runs in 191/3 innings. His performance against the Red Sox very well could be what costs him a second AL Cy Young Award.
Sabathia, who came in 7-1 with a 1.01 ERA in his previous eight starts and 13-2 with a 2.08 ERA in his last 15 since a loss to Boston June 9, said his problem Saturday was having almost no fastball command.
"I throw everything off my fastball,'' he said, "so if I have fastball command, I'm throwing in and out, I feel pretty good and pretty confident that I'll have the rest of my pitches."
Said Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild, "You need all your pitches in a game like today. I think he got into a little bit of a pattern throwing fastballs when he didn't have to in some situations, and he didn't command it as good as he has been. He was up a lot."
John Lackey (10-8, 6.14) got the victory, surviving a taxing afternoon. The righthander was at 50 pitches after three innings and 86 after four but made it through six having thrown 115.
The Yankees had a shot to put a big number on Lackey in the fifth when Francisco Cervelli singled, Brett Gardner was hit by a pitch and Derek Jeter singled in a run. But Granderson and Teixeira struck out and Robinson Cano grounded out to end the inning with the Yankees down 7-3.
"He got out of a big jam,'' Teixeira said of Lackey, who also faced a bases-loaded, none-out jam in the fourth and got Nick Swisher to hit into a double play before Eric Chavez singled home the tying run. "He's one of those guys who doesn't give in.''
The Yankees got three hits from Cervelli and two from Chavez, who is 11-for-32 since coming off the disabled list July 25. Teixeira's homer off Daniel Bard in the eighth made it 7-4, but the Sox promptly added three runs off Hector Noesi.
"I love the way our club has been playing," Joe Girardi said. "Eventually we were going to lose a game. Doesn't make it any easier when you lose against the Red Sox, but we need to bounce back tomorrow."