CLEVELAND – Cleveland Indians rookie Corey Kluber went pitch-for-pitch against Yankees ace CC Sabathia.
Cody Allen, another rookie, allowed a tiebreaking, two-run homer to Nick Swisher in the seventh inning giving New York a 3-1 victory Friday night.
The free-falling Indians have lost nine straight and are 4-22 since July 27, when they began an 11-game losing streak. It is the first time since at least 1918 that Cleveland has endured two nine-game skids in a season.
"I thought we played pretty decent tonight and we had our chances offensively," said manager Manny Acta, whose team led the AL Central on June 23. "Still, you need to execute better than we did, but I liked a lot of what I saw out there."
Before the game, general manager Chris Antonetti said the reasons for Cleveland's collapse were "difficult to pinpoint." On Thursday, owner Paul Dolan said he has no plans to dismiss president Mark Shapiro, Antonetti or Acta.
"There is a lot we can do going forward," Antonetti said. "This is an important six weeks for every guy in the entire organization."
Allen (0-1) is one of the players the Indians think can help. He had gone 13 2-3 scoreless innings over 12 outings to start his career, before allowing a leadoff single to Derek Jeter and Swisher's 19th home run.
"I knew it was going to come at some point, but I hate that it happened in a situation like this," Allen said of being scored upon. "In a 1-1 ballgame with an eight-game losing streak, it was kind of disappointing. Swisher was sitting on a heater, and just went out there and got it."
Swisher's 404-foot blast to right-center made Sabathia (13-3) a winner in his return from the disabled list, while Yankees closer Rafael Soriano pitched the ninth for his 32nd save in 34 chances.
It also spoiled a solid performance by Kluber, a right-hander who struck out a career-high six over five innings and left with a 1-1 tie. He scattered six hits, two walks and one very scary hit by pitch, when he beaned Jeter in the helmet.
Asdrubal Cabrera accounted for the Cleveland run with a 408-foot homer to center in the fourth. One pitch earlier, Sabathia fired a cut fastball behind Cabrera's buttocks in apparent retaliation for Jeter.
"I understand Derek and them not being happy with Kluber hitting him in the head," Acta said. "CC deserves credit for not throwing at (Cabrera's) head. And it was pretty nice, actually, with the way Asdrubal was able to drive the baseball on the next pitch."
Former Indians ace Sabathia, who had been on the DL since Aug. 9 with an inflamed left elbow, denied throwing at Cabrera. At the time, he had a perfect game through 10 batters.
"It just got away," he said. "I was trying to cut it. It really cut."
Sabathia struck out nine over 7 1-3 innings, only allowing four hits, one run and one walk. He received a loud ovation from the crowd of 27,986 upon leaving.
"It felt good to be cheered in this ballpark again," said Sabathia, who pitched for Cleveland from 2001 until being dealt in July 2008. "But there were a lot of Yankee fans here, too."
Carlos Santana had two hits for the Indians, who went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position. The top three in their batting order (Jason Kipnis, Cabrera and Shin-Soo Choo) were 1 for 11, including 1 for 9 against Sabathia.
"Sabathia is not a very good matchup for us and he's got a great slider," Acta said.
New York took a 1-0 lead when Jeter and Swisher opened the game with back-to-back doubles.
The Yankees subsequently loaded the bases in the first and second, but Kluber worked his way out of both jams. He has a 5.32 ERA overall, but has allowed one earned run in his last 10 innings.
"I think everything got better when I made adjustments as the game went on," Kluber said. "Obviously, though, things aren't going well for us, but we've still got a chance to turn it around."
Indians first baseman Matt LaPorta went 1 for 4. He was promoted from Triple-A Columbus and right-hander Frank Hermann optioned to the Clippers.
NOTES: The Yankees are 4-0 against the Indians this year. ... Cleveland first-base coach Tom Wiedenbauer left the team because of a death in the family. Bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. replaced him, while Tim Tolman took over Alomar's duties. ... Indians RHP Justin Masterson (9-11) faces Yankees RHP Hiroki Kuroda (12-8) on Saturday.