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Sanchez homers, Sabathia stays solid, Yanks win 9th straight

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By DAN GREENSPAN, AP
ANAHEIM, Calif.

Big bats have powered the New York Yankees during their longest winning streak since 2012. Their starting pitchers have been holding up their end of the bargain, too.

With New York’s sluggers mostly held in check, CC Sabathia helped the Yankees to their ninth straight win.

Gary Sanchez hit a two-run home run, Sabathia pitched seven more effective innings and the Yankees beat the Los Angeles Angels 2-1 on Sunday night for their first sweep at the Big A since July 2003.

“Obviously, the offense is a big story for us, but we’re not doing this without the starting pitching we’ve been getting,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “It’s been a good brand of baseball all the way around, but the starting pitching are the guys that set the tone.”

Sabathia (2-0) gave up one run, five hits and a walk while striking out four. The 37-year-old lowered his ERA to 1.71 and has allowed just one earned run in three starts since returning from a right hip injury.

Boone was impressed with how Sabathia was able to maintain consistency throughout his longest outing since going seven innings in a no-decision against Seattle last August.

“He was commanding everything, but it’s been really the story of what he has been this year,” Boone said. “Tonight was able to get a little bit deeper even because his pitch count wasn’t an issue. The ability to throw the change in any count, the breaking ball for a strike, and the cut fastball, that’s why he is still good.”

The only spot of trouble Sabathia faced was when Ian Kinsler doubled in the third. Kinsler reached third base on a throwing error by shortstop Didi Gregorius after the barrel of Mike Trout’s broken bat came flying toward him, but Justin Upton grounded out to end the inning.

Sanchez then launched a pitch from Tyler Skaggs (3-2) in the fourth inning into the stands in left field. The ball went 447 feet and gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead.

“Only other person I’ve seen go over the bullpen is A-Rod,” Sabathia said.

Skaggs made it 5 1/3 innings and allowed two runs while striking out eight. New York kept him busy early — Brett Gardner opened the game with a nine-pitch groundout, and Skaggs was at 42 pitches after getting through the second inning.

Sabathia and the bullpen made sure Sanchez’s seventh homer was enough, even after Upton scored on a wild pitch in the sixth inning to make it 2-1.

Chad Green struck out Zack Cozart to escape a jam in the eighth, and Aroldis Chapman got his sixth save by striking out Rene Rivera and Kinsler to end it after issuing a one-out walk to Chris Young.

“We got some good players in here, so it’s just up to us to go out and execute,” Sabathia said. “These guys are going to hit. It’s up to us to keep pitching and help the bullpen out.”

NOT WORRIED YET

The Angels started the season rolling offensive, but their fourth consecutive loss continued a recent scoring drought. Los Angeles was held to two runs total in its final two games against the Yankees and has scored more than four runs once in its last 12 games, having gone 3-9 in that stretch. However, manager Mike Scioscia expects the offense to figure things out.

“We’re not squaring balls up the last 10 days like we did earlier in the season, but we will,” Scioscia said. “These guys are too good of hitters not to come out of it.”

GETTING CLOSER

Albert Pujols got his 2,996th career hit on a bloop single that moved Upton to third base in the sixth inning. It was his 2,000th hit while playing first base.

Pujols needs four more hits to become the 32nd member of the 3,000-hit club and the second to do so as an Angel.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Yankees: INF Brandon Drury (migraines) could rejoin the team during its four-game series at Houston following a rehab assignment at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Angels: Shohei Ohtani (ankle) played catch Sunday and will likely make his next start during next weekend’s three-game series at Seattle, Scioscia said. Scioscia said Ohtani was available to pitch hit against the Yankees and expects him to hit against Baltimore on Tuesday.

UP NEXT

Yankees: RHP Sonny Gray (1-1, 7.71) will start at the Astros on Monday. Gray has not made it out of the fifth inning in four of his five starts this season. He gave up three runs, six hits and five walks in 4 2/3 innings in a no-decision against Minnesota on Wednesday.

Angels: RHP Nick Tropeano (1-2, 4.67) will start against Baltimore on Tuesday. Tropeano has gone 5 1/3 innings in each of his last two starts, allowing five runs in a loss against Boston on April 19th and four runs in a loss at Houston on Wednesday.

___

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

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