SEATTLE (AP) — CC Sabathia allowed a run in seven innings and joined Tampa Bay's David Price as the only 12-game winners in the American League, and the New York Yankees roughed up the Seattle Mariners for an 8-2 victory Sunday and head into the All-Star break with baseball's best record.
The World Series champions are 56-32 and have a two-game lead over the Rays in the American League East. New York has won nine of 11.
Sabathia (12-3) won his eighth straight decision and made it look easy. After consecutive singles from Casey Kotchman and Justin Smoak in the second inning, Sabathia set down the next 11 before Michael Saunders' single leading off the sixth.
Meanwhile, the Yankees roughed up starter Ryan Rowland-Smith for six hits and six runs in just four innings. Rowland-Smith (1-9) wasn't helped by two errors that allowed two unearned runs in the first inning.
Mark Teixeira doubled twice — once helped when Saunders lost a fly ball in the sun — and singled off Rowland-Smith. Derek Jeter added a two-run double in the fourth when the Yankees knocked out Rowland-Smith.
Marcus Thames hit a two-run homer in the fifth off reliever Brian Sweeney, his third longball of the season, as the Yankees took three of four from the slumping Mariners.
Sabathia will be a spectator at the All-Star game in Anaheim. A new rules disallows any pitcher who started Sunday from participating in Tuesday's game.
After starting the season a pedestrian 4-3, Sabathia has been dominant since the beginning of June. In his last eight starts, Sabathia has gone at least seven innings and given up three earned runs or less in all eight. His win on Sunday made Sabathia the first Yankee to win eight straight starts since Roger Clemens in the 2001 season.
Sabathia struck out one and walked one. Only once did Seattle put together any sort of rally when three consecutive hits plated the Mariners first run in the sixth inning. Chone Figgins had the RBI single that scored Saunders. Kotchman added a solo homer in the ninth.
Otherwise, the Mariners looked more than prepared to for a three-day break to try and forget a miserable first half. The expectations of contending in the AL West were long ago replaced by the debate of if the Mariners will lose 100 games for the second time in three seasons.
First inning errors by Jose Lopez and Figgins set the tone, accentuated by three wild pitches and a hit batter by Rowland-Smith. Seattle enters the All-Star break having lost 9 of 11.
NOTES: Sabathia is the first Yankee since Mike Mussina in 2002 to win at least 12 games before the All-Star break. ... Seattle LHP Erik Bedard played catch on Sunday, will throw a bullpen in Anaheim next weekend and still may have a minor league rehab assignment as he continues his recovery from shoulder surgery. ... Ichiro Suzuki extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a sixth-inning single. ... Yankees TV analyst John Flaherty, a former big league catcher, caught a foul ball on the fly in the booth.