BOSTON (AP) — CC Sabathia thought about retiring after a knee injury put the 37-year-old left-hander out of commission earlier this month.
He didn’t, and his return to the New York Yankees’ rotation was perfect timing for a team fighting to stay in the AL East race.
Tyler Austin hit a three-run home run, Todd Frazier added a solo homer and Sabathia retired 13 of the first 14 batters he faced as the Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox 4-3 on Saturday night.
Sabathia (10-5), returning from a stint on the disabled list because of sore right knee, allowed two runs and four hits to earn his first victory since July 21. He also improved to 3-0 in three starts against Boston this season. Dellin Betances got the last three outs for his ninth save.
“I felt confident coming in. But to be able to go out and pitch well against that team and get us a big win, feels really good,” Sabathia said.
He said he’s surprised himself by how fast he was able to return to action.
“I would have said, ‘No way.’ But everything’s worked out,” he said. “I want to keep going out there and helping the team.”
The Yankees won for the fifth time in six games and snapped Boston’s three game winning streak to pull within four games of the first-place Red Sox in the AL East.
Chris Sale (14-5) struck out nine, but was tagged for the four runs and seven hits. He is still looking for his first victory in the rivalry. He had allowed three runs or more only once over his previous six starts and had a 1.19 ERA in three starts against the Yankees. New York is 4-0 in games he has started.
The Yankees needed all four runs to preserve the win.
The score was 4-3 the eighth when Andrew Benintendi struck out, but advanced to first on a wild pitch by reliever David Robertson. Hanley Ramirez followed by lining a double to left field. The Yankees then intentionally walked Chris Young to load the bases.
But Robertson was able to settle down and struck out Xander Bogaerts on three straight knuckle curves.
Boston got within a run an inning earlier when Rafael Devers got ahold of reliever Adam Warren’s fastball, driving it just over the center-field boundary for a home run. It was confirmed after an umpire review. Devers’ eighth homer was the latest highlight in the rookie’s remarkable run since being called up to the majors July 24.
“Even when we lose, we don’t go down easy,” Sale said. “They throw some tough arms out there. We put some good at-bats together…We just couldn’t squeeze it out.”
Yankees: Placed INF Garrett Cooper on the 10-day disabled list with left hamstring tendinitis and recalled INF Tyler Austin from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. … Todd Frazier took an 81 mph slider from Chris Sale off left shin in second inning. He briefly got attention from the training staff, but was able to stay in the game.
Red Sox: Manager John Farrell said LHP Drew Pomeranz, who left mid-batter with back spasms in the fourth inning of Friday’s win, was still experiencing some soreness on Saturday. But Farrell said that “He’s of the mindset he’s going to be ready to go for his next start.”
Aaron Judge stuck out swinging in the fifth to set a major league-record with 36 consecutive games that he has struck out.
RING ‘EM UP
Sale now has 250 for the season, joining Randy Johnson and Pedro Martínez as the only pitchers to record 250 or more in 25 or fewer games in a season.
There was a pair of standout plays on both sides Saturday.
Mookie Betts, the second batter Sabathia faced, sent a screaming liner back toward the box. The lefty snagged it by quickly raising his glove , with the ball sitting in the top edge of the webbing for a ‘snow cone’ catch. After the grab, Sabathia held it for a few seconds, walked off the mound and broke into a grin.
Later, in the fourth, Jackie Bradley Jr. drifted back to the center-field warning track on Austin’s towering drive. Bradley leaped with his arm outstretched and made the grab at the top of his full extension while his body went up against the wall.
Yankees: RHP Sonny Gray is 5-4 with a 1.88 ERA over his last nine starts. It is the majors’ second-lowest ERA since June 25.
Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello has won each of his last three starts, but is 0-3 with a 3.79 ERA in three starts against the Yankees this season.
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