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CC Sabathia takes a step backward

New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia walks

New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia walks to the dugout after being taken out of the game during the sixth inning against the New York Mets in a baseball game at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, April 25, 2015. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

It was Matt Harvey Day on Saturday, although they don't call it that at Yankee Stadium. It certainly wasn't CC Sabathia Day. Not with the boos spilling on him from the sellout crowd as he walked off with none out in the sixth after his 87th and final pitch.

"If you pitch bad, you get booed," Sabathia said.

The matchup between Harvey and the Yankees' 34-year-old former ace proved to be an unfair fight. The Mets' 26-year-old ace yielded five hits in 82/3 innings and the Mets battered Sabathia for three homers and seven runs in five innings-plus on the way to an 8-2 victory.

The thing was, Sabathia had appeared to be heading in the right direction. After so-so work -- albeit with 15 strikeouts and one walk -- in his first two starts, he was a hard-luck 2-1 loser in Detroit on Monday.

Then the Mets touched him for four runs in a game-cracking fourth, and that wasn't all. Sabathia's final line came out to a lot less than so-so. His worst start of the season included nine hits, one hit batter and only two strikeouts. In that fourth inning, he just couldn't find a way to put away the Mets' hitters after getting two strikes on them.

So he's 0-4 with a swollen 5.96 ERA after four starts, following his 0-3 record and 8.10 ERA in three Grapefruit League starts. He now owns the longest regular-season losing streak of his career: six straight dating to last season. His seven-start winless drought also is a career worst.

"I just want to try to help the team win, and I haven't been able to do that my three or four times out, whatever it's been," he said. "This one stings a little more. I didn't give us a chance at all."

Sabathia, with one year plus a vesting option left on his contract, lugged question marks into this season. Would the surgically repaired degenerative right knee that limited him to eight starts last year hold up? Could he make a successful transition to finesse guy now that the radar gun doesn't light up anymore?

He hasn't really pitched all that well since his 15-6 year of 2012, but the Yankees still need the large lefty to be a large factor in the rotation. Joe Girardi remains a believer.

"If you look at the four starts, I think three of them, he's thrown the ball pretty good," he said. "Today he did not. He made mistakes. He was up in the zone. So I'm going to bet on the guy in the three other starts."

There was a bad sign early. With two outs and none on in the first, Lucas Duda lined a pitch over the rightfield fence.

Sabathia really started throwing batting practice in the fourth. On an 0-and-2 pitch with two outs, Juan Lagares tripled to give the Mets a 2-1 lead. Sabathia got ahead of Wilmer Flores 0-and-2, but three pitches later, Flores singled home Lagares. Sabathia then surrendered a two-run homer by rookie Kevin Plawecki.

"Obviously, his velocity's not the same," said Michael Cuddyer, who began the inning with a single on a 2-and-2 pitch. "But he's still a great competitor. He's still throwing strikes. Fortunately, we were able to get the barrel on some balls when we were down in the count."

Eric Campbell airlifted a souvenir for the fans beyond the fence in right-center to lead off the sixth against Sabathia.

"I looked at the film and he's been throwing well," said former Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long, who now has that role with the Mets. "So we came in as always looking for a dogfight, and today we got the best of him. He'll rebound from this one."

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