CC warmer, Cervelli red hot vs. Red Sox
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BOSTON -- Well, at least that's out of the way.
In his fifth start this season against a team that has tormented him like no other, CC Sabathia grinded through six innings in a 5-2 victory over the Red Sox on an eventful night at Fenway Park that included a bench-clearing incident and the ejection of Joe Girardi and his pitching coach.
Sabathia, 0-4 with a 7.20 ERA in four previous starts against Boston this season -- and 17-3 with a 2.40 ERA against the rest of baseball -- allowed two runs and 10 hits, which matched a season high, in six tough innings. He struck out 10 and walked two, throwing 128 pitches, his highest total since Aug. 18, 2008, when he was with the Brewers.
"Of course, so you guys will stop talking about it," said Sabathia, asked if he felt he needed to beat the Red Sox. "But like I said, it's always a big game when you're playing a team that you're chasing."
The Yankees (81-52) moved within one-half game of the Red Sox (82-52) in the AL East and are now 3-10 against their rival this season.
Mariano Rivera earned his 35th save and 594th of his career in a lively ninth. With two outs and David Ortiz on second, Jarrod Saltalamacchia was hit on the arm and Girardi was ejected for arguing that Saltalamacchia swung at the pitch. The next batter, pinch hitter Josh Reddick representing the tying run, flied out to left to end the game. The Red Sox left 16 runners on base.
"He said he was hit and that's what caused him to swing," a disgusted Girardi said of third- base umpire Mark Wegner's explanation.
Sabathia (18-7, 2.99) started the sixth at 109 pitches and though Jacoby Ellsbury reached on a one-out single, the lefthander made it through unscathed, leading 4-2.
"I felt like I had good stuff, better than I had in the four, five starts leading up to this one," Sabathia said.
Of the high pitch count, Sabathia said he didn't think it will affect him. "I've had a lot of rest here the last month so I'll be fine in five days," he said.
An odd bench-clearing incident, relatively harmless though one that included the ejection of pitching coach Larry Rothschild, overshadowed much of the night. Red Sox starter John Lackey (12-10, 5.94) drilled Francisco Cervelli, whose homer over the Green Monster in the fifth gave the Yankees a 4-2 lead, to start the inning and the catcher immediately took a step toward Lackey, mouth flapping.
The pitch appeared to be retaliation, and the Yankees had no doubt it was, for what Lackey might have thought was an overexuberant clap by Cervelli after he stepped on the plate following the home run, his first since a grand slam at Texas on May 8, a span of 98 at-bats.
As the teams made their way back to their dugouts, the normally reserved Rothschild was thrown out by Wegner. "I thought he hit him on purpose," Rothschild said.
Did he say a bad word?
"No," he laughed softly. "More than one."
Boone Logan replaced Corey Wade with two on and one out in the seventh and, after loading the bases, struck out Saltalamacchia and Darnell McDonald to end it. Rafael Soriano pitched a scoreless eighth.
"The louder the fans were," Logan said, "the more locked in I got."
Sabathia did that for the most part with runners on, allowing him to, finally, notch a sought-after victory.
"Obviously he wanted to and we wanted him to," Rothschild said of Sabathia beating the Red Sox. "Would it affect him down the road if he didn't? I don't know. I think his personality dictates that he's a really tough competitor. Because of that, we're glad he did but was it completely necessary? I'm not so sure."