For C. C. Sabathia, who grew up in nearby Vallejo, Calif., it was a rare victory in Oakland but a routine victory in August.
The Yankees have the biggest division lead in baseball, seven games in the American League East, but a loss Tuesday night would have been troubling, if only a bit. They would have dropped a game in the standings with Chad Gaudin starting Wednesday and a Boston series looming this weekend.
Not to worry. The Yankees had C. C. Sabathia on the mound, Derek Jeter batting leadoff and the helpful Oakland Athletics in the field. It resulted in a 7-2 victory at the Coliseum, with Sabathia working eight strong innings, Jeter smacking three more hits and the A’s making four errors.
For Sabathia, who grew up in nearby Vallejo, Calif., it was a rare victory in Oakland but a routine victory in August. This has always been his best month, and so it has been again. Sabathia is 4-0 with a 2.35 earned run average this August.
Sabathia (14-7) tied Josh Beckett of Boston and Adam Wainwright of St. Louis for the major league lead in victories by allowing five hits and a walk, with seven strikeouts in eight innings. But he did not have a lead until the sixth inning.
The Yankees left the bases loaded in the first inning, with Alex Rodriguez stranded at second after being struck on the left elbow by a Vin Mazzaro fastball. It was the second time in a week that Rodriguez had been hit in that spot, and he screamed in pain as he shook it off.
Evidently, Sabathia noticed. After two outs in the bottom of the first, he fired his first pitch to catcher Kurt Suzuki behind Suzuki’s legs. The plate umpire Jerry Layne issued a warning to both teams, and Suzuki got back in the box.
He swung at Sabathia’s next pitch, a high, inside fastball, and pounded it for a homer over the wall in left-center. The ball landed in the section next to where Sabathia sits for Raiders games. In the second, Tommy Everidge hit another two-out homer to left, to the section on the other side of Sabathia’s seats.
That made it 2-1, Oakland, the Yankees having scored an unearned run in their half of the second on an error by third baseman Adam Kennedy, who let Derek Jeter’s hard grounder scoot between his legs with two out.
The Yankees tied it in the third, which started with a single by Rodriguez. He went to second on a wild pitch, and scored with one out when Jorge Posada doubled over the head of the flummoxed left fielder, Scott Hairston. It was the Yankees’ first hit with a runner in scoring position since Saturday.They could not break the tie off Mazzaro, a 22-year-old rookie from Rutherford, N.J., who grew up rooting for the Yankees. With two on and one out in the fourth, Mazzaro walked Johnny Damon to load the bases for Mark Teixeira, who swung at the first pitch and bounced into an inning-ending double play.
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