Like aspirin for a headache, the Yankees found exactly what they needed this week after losing seven of eight:
The Cleveland Indians.
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The Yankees swept the three-game series vs. the Indians with a 6-4 victory Wednesday before 42,477 at Yankee Stadium.
The win improved the Yankees' record against Cleveland to 6-1 this season and 47-23 (.671) over the last 11 years. (That doesn't include playoff games and mid-inning midge attacks on Joba Chamberlain in the 2007 ALDS.)
CC Sabathia struck out nine in a complete game, former Indian Travis Hafner hit a long two-run home run and Brett Gardner smacked a three-run shot as the Yankees concluded their season series with the Indians by outscoring Cleveland 49-19.
"Cleveland's a good team," manager Joe Girardi said. "They swing the bats extremely well, they have power arms in the bullpen, their starters have done a good job."
Not against the Yankees, though. The Yankees averaged seven runs per game vs. Cleveland, including a 1-0 loss on May 13. They are averaging 3.67 runs against the other teams they've played this season.
Sabathia, another former Indian, retired the first 14 batters, striking out five, before Mike Aviles singled in front of a hard-charging Vernon Wells in left with two outs in the fifth.
Asked if he was thinking about a perfect game, Sabathia said: "Nah. It was too early."
Sabathia (6-4) allowed seven hits and walked one in a bullpen-saving 116-pitch effort. He threw a ton of breaking pitches against the aggressive Indians and benefitted from plate umpire Larry Vanover's generous strike zone, especially on the outside corner. Sabathia's fastball stayed around 90-92 miles per hour, but his slider and change baffled Cleveland.
"We needed that nine innings," said Girardi, who didn't want to use David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain or Boone Logan and only got up Mariano Rivera during the ninth inning. "Didn't really want to use Mo. I would have with two outs there in the ninth. Just a big performance there by C."
Six runs in the first two innings helped. The Yankees took a 2-0 lead in the first with a pair of unearned runs off Corey Kluber (3-4). Robinson Cano reached second when centerfielder Michael Bourn dropped his liner for a two-base error. One out later, Hafner reached the second deck in right with his 10th home run of the season (and seventh at Yankee Stadium in 70 at-bats).
Lyle Overbay, starting his third straight game in rightfield, led off the second with an infield single. Jayson Nix doubled him to third before Chris Stewart lined an RBI single to left to make it 3-0.
Gardner followed with a three-run homer in the lower deck in right. It was the leadoff man's sixth home run; his career high is seven in 2011.
The Indians started chipping away at Sabathia in the sixth, scoring two runs on three hits. Yan Gomes hit a two-run homer in the seventh to make it 6-4.
But Sabathia allowed only a two-out walk to Nick Swisher in the eighth in the final two innings while striking out three. The Yankees finished the homestand 4-4 after starting 1-4 against the Mets and Red Sox.
Then they left for a 10-game, three-city West Coast trip that begins Thursday night in Seattle.
"We ended on a high note," Sabathia said. "So hopefully we can keep it going."