AP Sports Writer

NEW YORK (AP) _ Yankees manager Joe Girardi was hoping CC
Sabathia would give one of those performances that has made him one
of the most dependable pitchers in baseball _ his bullpen really
needed a break.

The ace obliged.

Sabathia steadied New York’s rocky rotation with eight sharp
innings, Alex Rodriguez passed Willie Mays for eighth on the career
RBIs list and the Yankees beat the Detroit Tigers 6-2 on Sunday
despite leaving an astonishing 14 men on base in the first six

“It just feels good to go out there and give those guys a
rest,” Sabathia said of a `pen that had thrown 73 1-3 innings
entering the game, third most in the AL.

A-Rod drove in two runs for 1,904 RBIs without hitting the ball
out of the infield. According to information provided by the
Yankees from Elias, he is eighth in major league history.

He singled on a dribbler down the third base line with the bases
loaded in the second, the Yankees’ only hit in six plate
appearances with three men on. Chris Stewart slid under catcher
Gerald Laird’s tag on Rodriguez’s grounder to short in the seventh.

Curtis Granderson homered in the fourth inning _ barely. He had
to stop between second and third to look back after center fielder
Austin Jackson nearly made a spectacular catch above the wall in

Granderson also walked with the bases loaded to force in the
game’s first run in the second, one of a career-high seven walks by
Detroit starter Max Scherzer (1-3).

The Yankees walked nine times and left 15 on base overall, but
won the three-game series. Detroit has lost eight of 10.

“We were really fortunate to have a shot in that game the way
the game was going,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “In this
ballpark, with a lineup like that, normally that doesn’t happen.
And it won’t happen.”

Andruw Jones homered in the eighth. He pinch ran for Nick
Swisher in the third after the right fielder left with a tight left
hamstring following a walk.

Swisher has a low grade strain and will be out several days.
Giradi says it’s not serious enough for a trip to the disabled

With New York’s bullpen taxed by Freddy Garcia’s horrid 1 2-3
innings start on Saturday, Manager Girardi said before the game,
“I would love to get a good seven or eight strong innings out of

Sabathia (3-0) came through. He gave up a double in the first
then retired 10 in a row before Prince Fielder, his former teammate
at Milwaukee, hit his first home run in the Bronx and third this
year overall with two outs in the fourth.

The big lefty had little trouble with the Tigers _ all except
for Fielder and his nemesis Miguel Cabrera, who hit a long RBI
double in the sixth inning to close it to 3-2. Cabrera is 10 for 19
against Sabathia.

Sabathia struggled early to a 5.27 ERA on a staff with a 6.37
ERA, 29th in majors, entering Sunday. Garcia was dropped from the
rotation before Sunday’s game and rookie David Phelps will get a
start before the expected return of Andy Pettitte in mid-May.

But Sabathia was sharp this time, yielding four hits and
striking out eight. He walked two.

“When you have your ace on the mound and you talk about trying
to win all the series and you’re tied 1-1 you feel pretty good
going into that day,” Girardi said..

Fielder homered to close the score to 2-1 before Granderson
matched him in the bottom of the fourth.

With one out, Granderson connected but Jackson made a long run
and leaped where the outfield wall meets a fence that separates
fans from the New York bullpen in right-center. The former Yankees
minor leaguer who was sent to Detroit in the trade for Granderson
had the ball in his glove but momentum carried the glove into that
fence, knocking the ball loose for Granderson’s eighth homer.

“I didn’t see what happened right away,” Granderson said.

Despite all the walks and seven hits in 4 2-3 innings, Scherzer
got away with allowing just three runs.

Luke Putkonen made his major league debut with the bases loaded
and two outs in fifth. He got Granderson to ground out to second
base then received a bunch of fist bumps when he returned to the

“To be honest with you, that was the last thing I wanted to do,
but sometimes it doesn’t want to work out the way you want to,”
Leyland said of bringing in Putkonen. “I was hoping (Scherzer)
could get through the inning and I could start the kid in an

Scherzer was pulled after throwing 119 pitches.

Putkonen gave up Rodriguez’s fielder’s choice RBI in the
seventh. Collin Balester relieved and gave up a sacrifice fly to
Robinson Cano. Putkonen walked two.

NOTES: The major league record for runners left on base is 20
for a nine-inning game, set by the Yankees in 1956. … Jeter’s two
infield singles gave him 36 in April, topping the best April of his
career, 35 in 2006. … Tigers RHP Doug Fister (left side strain)
will make a rehab start Wednesday for Triple-A Toledo. … Cabrera
has hits in 31 of 33 games against Yankees. Brennan Boesch had two
hits and has hits in 13 of 15 games against New York.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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