By RONALD BLUM AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) _ CC Sabathia’s fastball returned to the New York Yankees along with Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis.
Throwing at up to 94 mph after two months of decreased velocity, Sabathia matched his season high with 10 strikeouts while pitching into the eighth inning to lead New York over the Boston Red Sox 4-1 Friday night and stop the Yankees’ season-high, five-game losing streak.
Out since injuring his right wrist March 5, Teixeira made his season debut and was 0 for 3 with a walk. Youkilis, sidelined by a back injury since April 27, was 1 for 4 with an RBI single in the fifth.
The Yankees started to look a little more like the Yankees although they are still without shortstop Derek Jeter, regular third baseman Alex Rodriguez, left fielder Curtis Granderson and catcher Francisco Cervelli.
After getting swept by the Mets over four games, Yankees manager Joe Girardi was fired up and got ejected in the fifth inning for arguing a call against New York by second base umpire Vic Carapazza. Replays should Carapazza made the correct call.
Sabathia (5-4) ended a five-game winless streak, one shy of his career high, allowing six hits and no walks in 7 1-3 innings. Coming back from offseason elbow surgery, he entered with an average fastball velocity of 90.2 mph this season, according to fangraphs.com. That was down from 92.4 mph last year and 93.9 mph in 2011.
He regularly reached 92 mph against the Red Sox and was clocked as high as 94 mph. He mixed in a slider and changeup he threw with authority and precision, helping the Yankees close within a game of first-place Boston in the AL East.
Given a 2-0 lead in the second on RBI singles from Jayson Nix and Ichiro Suzuki, Sabathia improved to 9-2 with a 2.63 ERA in 13 starts following Yankees losses since the start of the 2012 season. He threw 73 of 109 pitches for strikes and allowed his only run on Mike Napoli’s RBI double in the seventh.
“We’ve seen some 92s and an occasional 93. The 96s and 97s we’re probably not going to see,” Girardi said before the game. “So I think it is somewhat of a transition for him.”
Sabathia reached double digits strikeouts for the 17th time with the Yankees and 36th overall. He got three called strikeouts from plate umpire Lance Barksdale, who appeared to have a generous strike zone, and was backed by two double plays. There were 10 caught lookings in all, and players from both teams argued with the ump.
“It would just seem across the field he’s making those adjustments naturally as you get deeper into your career,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “He’s shown to be still very effective, where he’s deep in games. He may do it a little bit differently now than he did it a year or two ago.”
David Robertson followed Sabathia, and Mariano Rivera rebounded from Tuesday’s blown save at the Mets to pitch a two-hit ninth for his 19th save in 20 chances. He entered to a standing ovation.
Jon Lester (6-2), who won at Yankees Stadium on opening day, lost his second straight decision. Struggling with his control _ he had 48 pitches through two innings _ he gave up four runs, six hits, four walks and a hit batter in 6 1-3 innings. He left with two on, and Brett Gardner greeted Andrew Miller with an RBI single.
Boston was missing center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who felt tightness in his left groin when swiping the last of his team-record five bases Thursday at Philadelphia. Rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. replaced him in center field and Daniel Nava took over as the leadoff hitter, striking out three times and grounding into a DP.
NOTES: The Yankees’ May 19 rainout against Toronto will be made up as part of a day-night doubleheader on Aug. 20. … New York optioned RHP Ivan Nova and LHP Vidal Nuno to Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes-Barre. Girardi said a position player likely would be moved off the active roster when LHP Andy Pettitte is activated Monday to start against Cleveland. … New York batters had gone three straight games without a walk for the first time in 21 years before Gardner’s leading off the first. … Boston said RHP Clay Buchholz (7-0) is slated to start Sunday’s series finale against the Yankees’ Hiroki Kuroda (6-3). Buchholz was scratched from his scheduled start Monday against the Phillies because of irritation in his collarbone area. … Red Sox RF Shane Victorino, on the DL since May 21 because of a strained left hamstring, likely will have a two-day injury rehabilitation assignment and be activated for Wednesday’s game against Texas. 3B Will Middlebrooks, on the DL since May 24 with a lower back strain, is on track to be activated Thursday. … Dustin Pedroia had three hits.
(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)