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Sabathia pitches 8 strong for Yankees

CC 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 14 men on base in the first six innings.

A-Rod drove in two runs for 1,904 RBIs without hitting the ball out of the infield. 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 his trot between second and third to look back for confirmation after center fielder Austin Jackson nearly made a spectacular catch above the wall in right-center.

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.

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.

With New York's bullpen taxed by Freddy Garcia's 1 2-3 inning start on Saturday, Manager Joe Girardi said before the game, "I would love to get a good seven or eight strong innings out of CC." His ace obliged.

Sabathia (3-0) 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 may 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.

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.

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 dugout.

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 infield two 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.