CC Sabathia #52 of the New York Yankees throws a...

CC Sabathia #52 of the New York Yankees throws a pitch against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. (June 4, 2011) Credit: Getty Images

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- CC Sabathia is officially on one of those rolls that he usually saves for the second halves of seasons.

The lefthander won his fourth straight decision Saturday night, leading the Yankees to a 3-2 victory over the Angels in front of a sellout crowd of 43,619 at Angel Stadium.

After starting this nine-game West Coast trip 0-2, the Yankees (32-24) improved to 5-3 and are guaranteed a winning record on the trip. They haven't been too far away from an even better record, as the three losses have been by scores of 4-3, 5-4 in 12 innings and 3-2.

Sabathia (7-3, 2.80), coming off an outstanding start in Seattle last Sunday that gave the Yankees their first victory of the trip, allowed eight hits and a walk in 82/3 innings. One of the two runs off him was unearned.

"I've been feeling pretty good,'' Sabathia said. "Tonight my changeup really kept me in the game. They were being aggressive early in counts and I was able to get some swings 1-0, 0-1 early in the count that kept the pitch count down.''

Said Joe Girardi, "He commanded everything. I thought he had a really good changeup. I thought his fastball was good tonight. Eight and two-thirds, you'd sign up for that every time.''

Especially when Mariano Rivera needs only one pitch to get that final out. With the Angels already having scored a run against Sabathia in the ninth and the winning run at the plate, Rivera got Erick Aybar to pop up to short for his 15th save.

It was the fourth straight game in which Sabathia has gone at least eight innings.

"That's what I'm trying to do,'' he said. "I try to give these guys as much rest as possible. I think that's what our jobs as starters is, to go deep in the game and keep those guys [relievers] fresh, because they're going to be a big part of us winning down the stretch.''

Girardi sent Sabathia, who was at 99 pitches, back out for the ninth with a 3-1 lead. Alex Rodriguez, who hit a two-run homer in the sixth to snap a 1-1 tie, made two good plays in the ninth, the latter a diving stop to his right on Jeff Mathis' ground smash, before Peter Bourjos kept things alive with a single. He took second on defensive indifference and scored on Maicer Izturis' chopper up the middle, making it 3-2.

But Rivera needed only one pitch to rescue Sabathia. "That's the best feeling,'' Sabathia said of turning things over to Rivera. "No matter what the situation is. He's the greatest.''

The Yankees were mostly held in check by Ervin Santana -- who was pushed up a day when Dan Haren's back acted up Friday -- but got home runs from Robinson Cano (No. 12) and Rodriguez (No. 10).

Sabathia's performance came on the heels of his outing in Seattle in which he allowed one run and five hits in eight innings. Despite a changeup he said was "terrible'' early on, Sabathia was dominant, though the Angels had some chances against him early, putting a runner on base in the first, two in the second and one in the third. But after the Angels got an unearned run in the fourth set up by an error by Derek Jeter -- who singled in the seventh to move within 15 hits of 3,000 -- Sabathia went into shutdown mode. He was most impressive in the sixth -- right after Rodriguez's two-run blast -- and seventh, needing only six pitches to get through each inning.

"That was a huge home run for us and then CC, it seemed like after he got that lead, he became more efficient,'' Girardi said. "You talk about the aces and the great starters; when they get that lead, they seem to really take charge.''

Cano gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead in the fourth, ending a 10-pitch at-bat by driving Santana's full-count pitch deep to right. Torii Hunter gave chase and made a jump at the ball that carried him over the short wall and into the seats, where it appeared he inadvertently head-butted a fan. It was Cano's third homer of the trip.

Cano, however, was unhappy with the at-bat, saying he swung at several bad pitches. "I should have walked,'' he said.

The Angels tied it with an unearned run in the bottom of the inning. Alberto Callaspo led off with a double and went to third when Jeter committed his fourth error of the season on Howie Kendrick's grounder. Sabathia got Mark Trumbo to foul out to Rodriguez for the first out, but Mathis sent a long fly ball to center, plenty deep enough to tie the score at 1-1.

It stayed that way until the sixth, when with one out and one on, Rodriguez slammed Santana's 1-and-1 pitch over the wall in left-center for a 3-1 lead.

The homer, his 68th against the Angels -- the most he's hit against any opponent -- gave him 1,864 RBIs, tying him with Mel Ott for ninth all-time. It also was his 38th career home run at Angel Stadium, the most he's hit at any visiting ballpark he didn't once call home.

"Just a good pitch to hit,'' A-Rod said. "Right down the middle and I put a good swing on it.''

Sabathia said Rodriguez's diving stop in the ninth was a game-saver, and the third basemen returned the compliment.

"He's kind of been our lifesaver for the last two or three years,'' Rodriguez said. "He's a guy who starts winning streaks for us and stops losing streaks. He did that last Sunday, and hopefully, today was another example of that.''

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