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Sabathia pleased to be part of winning cause

Yankees lefty throws seven innings to pick up first victory since 2014
MLB.com @BryanHoch

ST. PETERSBURG -- It had been more than a year since CC Sabathia was able to walk out of a big league ballpark with a victory in his back pocket, but even more than the individual statistic, the big lefty is just pleased to feel like he is finally part of the fun.

Supported by four homers from his teammates, Sabathia held the Rays to four runs (three earned) over seven innings in the Yankees' 11-5 victory on Monday at Tropicana Field, logging his first win since April 24, 2014, as the Yankees won for the 18th time in their past 24 games.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- It had been more than a year since CC Sabathia was able to walk out of a big league ballpark with a victory in his back pocket, but even more than the individual statistic, the big lefty is just pleased to feel like he is finally part of the fun.

Supported by four homers from his teammates, Sabathia held the Rays to four runs (three earned) over seven innings in the Yankees' 11-5 victory on Monday at Tropicana Field, logging his first win since April 24, 2014, as the Yankees won for the 18th time in their past 24 games.

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"It was bothering me that we hadn't won games I'd started, or tried to keep us in games, or keep us close to win games," Sabathia said. "That's my biggest concern, is always just trying to help the team. I think wins will come, and it was good to get this one."

The effort snapped a string of seven straight losing decisions over nine starts dating back to last April 29. Prolonged by his season-ending knee injury in May, it marked the longest losing streak and winless drought of Sabathia's decorated career.

The Yanks' hitters felt some measure of responsibility for that; Sabathia had received only one run of support in four of his first six starts this season. As manager Joe Girardi noted, the Yanks had scored 13 runs in games Sabathia had started all season, then nearly equaled it on Monday.

"He's pitched well enough to have three or four wins," catcher Brian McCann said. "We haven't hit for him. Tonight it was nice for the offense to put up some runs for him and for him to get a win."

Not only has Sabathia's win column been gathering dust, but Tropicana Field has been a nightmare setting in recent years for him; the Yanks had lost eight of Sabathia's last nine starts here.

Things appeared on that track early, as Sabathia walked the first two hitters and permitted a run-scoring double to Logan Forsythe, but shortstop Didi Gregorius made a strong throw home to cut down Steven Souza Jr., which Sabathia thought was a big play in the game.

"The walks were just me being erratic early," Sabathia said. "I came out with my fastball, I felt pretty good, my body felt good, so I had to ease into the game and tell myself to let the ball go."

Video: NYY@TB: Forsythe drives in run, call confirmed in 1st

From that point on, he faced the minimum until Souza's infield single with two outs in the sixth.

"His two-seamer and four-seamer were really working tonight," McCann said. "He had the hitters off-balance and he mixed in some great changeups and threw some great back-door sliders. Once he settled down after the first, he had some really good movement in the zone."

Sabathia was displeased to serve up three seventh-inning runs, spoiling his line somewhat with back-to-back homers by Forsythe and Joey Butler. The Yanks' lineup gave him plenty of cover.

"I think he was mad at himself for giving up the runs in the seventh. I think that's who he is," Girardi said. "I'm sure when he goes home and reflects on it tonight, he'll be happy that he got a win, but that's who he is."

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