CC Sabathia can put a season's worth of frustration behind him on Saturday when the New York Yankees continue a three-game series with the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
Sabathia has struggled for most of this season, going 13-12 with a 4.82 ERA. The big left-hander had a two-start winning streak stopped on Monday in Baltimore, as he allowed four runs (3 earned) and seven hits over 7 1/3 innings to absorb the loss against Orioles 16-game winner Chris Tillman.
"It's frustrating, but it's baseball," Sabathia said. "You've got to go out and try to keep the game close. He's been pitching well all year, and it's up to me to try to keep the game close and give these guys a chance to win."
The former AL Cy Young Award winner has posted a 2-1 record against the Red Sox this season, but has pitched to a bloated 7.15 ERA in four starts against them. He is 10-10 lifetime versus them with a 4.62 ERA.
Boston, meanwhile, will counter with a left-hander of its own in Jon Lester, who is 13-8 with a 3.86 ERA. Lester did not get a decision against the Yankees on Sunday, as he allowed three runs and 10 hits in eight innings of a 4-3 loss. He was taken off the hook when Will Middlebrooks led off the top of the ninth inning with a game-tying homer.
"I felt good," Lester said. "It was a little bit of a grinder for me. I was able to keep the team within reach. Will picks me up in the ninth there. Unfortunately, we were on the other side in the ninth."
Lester has faced the Yankees 25 times and is 10-5 against them with a 4.11 ERA.
Boston continued to spoil the Yankees postseason hopes, as Jarrod Saltalamacchia broke a tie game with a grand slam in the bottom of the seventh inning, and the Red Sox rolled to an 8-4 win.
Saltalamacchia was one of five Boston regulars to collect two hits as the Red Sox moved another step closer towards a possible AL East title with their eighth win in 10 games. Stephen Drew had a two-run double as part of a 2-for-4 night, while David Ortiz went 2-for-3 with a pair of runs scored in the triumph.
"We've got the ability to show the resiliency," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "We're getting big hits. It's been spread around. I thought we had a very good offensive approach tonight."
Brandon Workman (6-3) received the victory after retiring the only batter he faced to end the top of the seventh. John Lackey worked the first 6 1/3 innings for Boston, permitting four runs on seven hits.
The Yankees entered this important set off three straight wins in Baltimore, but saw their streak come to an end despite a 4-for-4, two-RBI performance from Robinson Cano. Brendan Ryan added two hits, including a solo homer, in the setback, which dropped New York two games behind Tampa Bay for the AL's second wild card berth after the Rays bested Minnesota on Friday.
Saltalamacchia's slam off Preston Claiborne handed Hiroki Kuroda (11-11) his fourth consecutive losing decision. The struggling righty was charged with five runs on eight hits over six-plus frames.
Boston is 11-6 against the Yankees this season.