Yankees-Indians Preview

The New York Yankees' lead in the AL East has been reduced to the smallest amount possible.

Their offense has also experienced a major reduction lately.

Four straight losses have the Yankees in danger of dropping out of first place for the first time in over a month, a fate they'll try to avoid Wednesday night against the Cleveland Indians.

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New York (61-50) was unable to right itself in Tuesday's series opener, losing 5-4 in 16 innings after closer Andrew Miller allowed two runs in the 10th and suffered his first blown save.

With their longest losing streak since dropping a season-high six in a row May 17-24, the Yankees' division lead over hard-charging Toronto was cut to one-half game. That advantage was seven games as recent as July 28.

''We're going to fight,'' manager Joe Girardi said. ''We didn't think it would be anything different than that. We're going through a little tough stretch, but we'll get it turned around.''

After getting shut out in its previous two games, New York's drought reached 31 innings until Stephen Drew's sixth-inning homer. Carlos Beltran also went deep and Chase Headley had a two-run single, but the Yankees' offense remains a problem.

They've totaled eight runs and batted .159 during a 1-5 stretch. The first four hitters in the lineup - Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira - went a combined 1 for 25 with nine strikeouts Tuesday. An 0-for-19 skid has dropped Ellsbury's average to .260, its lowest since mid-April.

''It's baseball,'' Girardi said. ''That's it. If you're ready to give up, give up. I'm not ready to give up.''

CC Sabathia (4-8, 5.34 ERA) will try to help end the skid and win back-to-back starts for the first time since May.

This has been a very trying season for Sabathia, who owns the fourth-highest ERA in the AL and has allowed opponents to hit .295.

He did rebound from two dismal outings with an excellent performance Thursday against Boston. The left-hander exited without a decision in a 2-1 win after limiting the Red Sox to one run and three hits over six innings, striking out eight.

Pitching on six days' rest seemed to benefit Sabathia, who allowed fewer than three runs for only the third time in his last nine starts.

''I hated the rest before but, just to get my body in order, whatever rest they give me I'll take,'' he said. ''If not I'll take the ball when they need.''

Sabathia, who pitched for the Indians from 2001-2008, has more wins (51), starts (121), innings (775) and strikeouts (702) than any pitcher in Progressive Field history. He's 3-0 with a 1.93 ERA in his last three starts against his former team.

He's had little trouble with Michael Brantley, who is 1 for 11 with six strikeouts in this matchup. Brantley, though, is batting .438 in his last 12 games and .439 with 10 RBIs during a 10-game hitting streak against the Yankees.

Brantley's walkoff single lifted the Indians (52-59) to their third straight win. They've scored 39 runs in the past four games after totaling 16 in the previous seven.

A revitalized offense and Danny Salazar (9-6, 3.38) on the mound figures to be a good combination for Cleveland.

The right-hander has turned in five straight quality starts, going 2-2 with a 1.53 ERA while striking out 35 over 35 1-3 innings.

He limited the Los Angeles Angels to one run and three hits over six innings last Wednesday and was in line to win his second straight start before Cody Allen surrendered three runs in the ninth.