CC Sabathia puts on good show for his fans

CC Sabathia pitches against the Oakland Athletics. (May CC Sabathia pitches against the Oakland Athletics. (May 26, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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OAKLAND, Calif. -- It wasn't as if the whole city was here. Vallejo's population is about 116,000. But CC Sabathia had purchased enough tickets -- 200 for family and friends from his hometown, a half-hour northeast of O.co Coliseum -- to fill an area of the rightfield stands.

His own rooting section, if you will, and once Sabathia was able to control his pitches Saturday, he gave them a show and helped the Yankees earn a 9-2 victory over the A's.

"It seemed like when we got the lead to 6-2,'' Joe Girardi said, referring to the fifth inning, "CC really settled in. He was over 60 [pitches] in three innings, and we were able to get seven innings out of him.''

Seven innings and 109 pitches.

Sabathia, who had lost his previous two starts after winning five straight decisions, gave up two runs and five hits in those first three innings.

"His control?'' Girardi said. "Sometimes it just happens. You're always searching for reasons. He was cutting the ball a little bit early. He didn't have control of the down-and-away pitch. Then he found it.

"But he was getting ground balls. That was the important thing. And [Derek] Jeter got to them. That's what you have to do, pick each other up.''

Sabathia said pitching coach Larry Rothschild and catcher Chris Stewart reminded him to "get on top of the ball'' at the release point. Eventually he followed instructions.

" I try not to pitch differently in any game,'' he said, "but when we got the runs, it took the pressure off. We have one of the best offenses in the league. It definitely relaxes you when you get some runs."

Mark Teixeira homered in the fourth for a 3-2 lead, singled home two runs in the fifth to put the Yankees ahead 6-2 and added a two-run homer in the ninth.

The defense wasn't bad, either. Jeter's pickup of Coco Crisp's grounder behind second base with the bases loaded in the second was the sort of saving play he's made through his career.

"That's what you have to do,'' Girardi said. "Sometimes you have to pick each other up. CC got ground balls, and Jeter got to them.''

Sabathia allowed nine walks in his previous two starts, but on an afternoon by the bay as gray as the Yankees' road uniforms, he walked only two, none after the third. He's 6-1 with a 2.62 ERA in his last nine starts against the A's.

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