Bats & bullpen give Sabathia plenty of support

The Yankees did what they needed to do over the weekend in Boston by winning the series over the Red Sox. A sweep would have been preferable, of course, but taking two of three was the next best thing, particularly since they came from behind to win the rubber game Sunday night, 9-6, before a national television audience.

The Yanks needed a big game from CC Sabathia but didn’t quite get it. They did get a gutsy performance from the big lefthander, however. Once again, Sabathia had control issues as he walked five batters (that’s now 11 walks in his past 11 1/3 innings) and was behind, 6-3, in the fifth inning. A strikeout of Stephen Drew after having walked in a run to end the fifth turned out to be CC’s biggest out of the night.

His teammates came right back the next inning with four runs off Boston starter Ryan Dempster to take the lead for good. The big blow was a bases-clearing triple by Brett Gardner. The other run that inning was a home run to dead center by Alex Rodriguez, who had been hit by Dempster in the second inning that so angered manager Joe Girardi that he was ejected from the game.

The rejuvenated Yankees offense banged out 17 hits. The amazing part was all that was done without the aid of Alfonso Soriano, who was 0-for-5. Eduardo Nunez, Robinson Cano and Rodriguez took up the slack with three hits apiece. It was a hit parade all weekend for the Yankees, who totaled 40 knocks in the series. The Yankees also showed a lot of aggressiveness on the bases with four steals Sunday night and nine stolen bases in the series.

Mariano Rivera ended his recent slump with his 36th save after having blown his three previous save opportunities. He followed ensemble work by Shawn Kelley, Boone Logan and David Robertson as the bullpen held the Red Sox scoreless with two hits in 3 2/3 innings.

The Yankees cut into any sense of Red Sox’ invincibility in this series, although Boston is still 7 ½ games ahead of the Bombers in the American League East. The Yanks did help to trim the Red Sox’ lead to one game over the Rays. The Yankees are also six games behind for the second wild-card spot. But taking the series was a good first step. They come home for a four-game set beginning with a day-night doubleheader Tuesday against the Blue Jays, against whom they are 8-1 this season.

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