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CC displays ace stuff to help Yanks end skid

MLB.com @BryanHoch

KANSAS CITY -- CC Sabathia loves the idea of being trusted as the Yankees' stopper, the big man who gets the call when a losing streak absolutely must be stopped cold, and so this was one of those moments to relish.

Sabathia navigated some third-inning trouble and settled in to command a free-swinging Royals lineup, spinning seven strong innings and notching his second win in as many starts as the Yankees cruised to a 5-1 win to snap a four-game skid.

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KANSAS CITY -- CC Sabathia loves the idea of being trusted as the Yankees' stopper, the big man who gets the call when a losing streak absolutely must be stopped cold, and so this was one of those moments to relish.

Sabathia navigated some third-inning trouble and settled in to command a free-swinging Royals lineup, spinning seven strong innings and notching his second win in as many starts as the Yankees cruised to a 5-1 win to snap a four-game skid.

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"We've been playing so well and hadn't had many bad streaks," Sabathia said. "To get this win felt good."

Sabathia seemed to be in trouble in that third inning, as Kansas City loaded the bases with none out. Mike Moustakas lifted a sacrifice fly to center field, but it proved to be the only run the Royals would get all night.

"That's really big, especially against a club that has swung the bats so well this year," manager Joe Girardi said. "Their lefties, their righties, everyone's swinging in their lineup. You look at their averages, everyone's been extremely productive, and CC just made a lot of good pitches tonight."

In that fifth, Sabathia froze Lorenzo Cain looking at a called third strike for the second out and then engaged in a hard-fought battle with Eric Hosmer, who laced two threatening foul balls down the left-field line before Sabathia got him to wave at a changeup.

"He's battled me since he's been up in the big leagues," Sabathia said. "He's handled my cutter pretty good. We had thrown him a bunch and the fastball. Just wanted to give him a different look. It ended up getting a strikeout."

Girardi said that an inning like that is "what aces do," and even though Sabathia has ceded that title to Masahiro Tanaka (and perhaps Michael Pineda), the Yanks still have great confidence when he is on the hill.

"Whether you call him an ace or not, he's a tremendous pitcher that's had more success than 99 percent of the people that have played this game," Chase Headley said. "We always feel good when he goes out there that he's going to give us a chance to win.

"When you have a veteran in that spot like that, especially somebody like him that's been there and done that, that''s a huge plus for us. He probably did as good a job pitching considering the circumstances as we've seen all year."

Sabathia even got to pick up his defense in a rain-soaked fifth inning, as second baseman Jose Pirela booted a Moustakas grounder, but Sabathia retired the next two hitters.

"It felt good. That's what I'm out there to do," Sabathia said. "Those guys are out there trying to play hard and make every play. It's up to me when they make mistakes to have their back and get us out of the inning."

Sabathia was cruising so efficiently that he had hoped to get the ball for the eighth inning, but Girardi cut his night short after 87 pitches, reasoning that he wanted to get the power tandem of Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller a bit of work for the final two frames.

"I guess I'm the old man now, so he has to give me rest," Sabathia, 35 in July, said with a laugh.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.

New York Yankees, CC Sabathia