A-Rod's five RBIs set up CC's 11th win
Slugger three homers from No. 600; lefty wins seventh straight
OAKLAND -- CC Sabathia used to have his fair share of trouble pitching at the stadium where he came to watch games in his youth, but you wouldn't have known that by watching him work on Tuesday.
Backed by two Alex Rodriguez home runs, including a grand slam, Sabathia hurled 7 2/3 innings to win his seventh consecutive start, turning in a powerful performance in front of friends and family as the Yankees defeated the A's, 6-1.
"I think I'm over the whole coming here and trying to do too much," said Sabathia, who grew up in nearby Vallejo, Calif. "I've pitched here a lot in the past 10 years. It's just another place to come and play now."
Sabathia still holds season tickets for Raiders games at the Coliseum, but the A's no longer seem to own any sort of grip on the ace left-hander. Sabathia struck out 10 and scattered seven hits, posting a victory for the second time in three starts at Oakland.
Unbeaten since May 23, Sabathia has won seven straight for just the second time in his career, having also done so in August and September 2005 as a member of the Indians. He is the first Yankees pitcher to win seven straight since Roger Clemens in 2001.
"It's what he did for us last year and what we're all used to seeing," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Sabathia. "CC has been an ace for a long time. In this league or the National League, he's been very, very good. He's on a string right now, and he's pitching great."
"I feel pretty good," Sabathia said. "I'm just trying to be aggressive in the strike zone, throw strikes and get ahead, and things are working out for me lately."
Rodriguez's bat provided all of the support Sabathia could hope for, connecting for two homers off Oakland starter Trevor Cahill.
"They were similar -- one was a fastball, one was a changeup," Rodriguez said. "Today, they were big for CC. CC and Jorgie [Posada] both threw a terrific game. They had great rhythm."
Showing more power as his right hip gets stronger, A-Rod belted a grand slam in New York's five-run third inning, sending it over the wall in left-center field to stake Sabathia to a 5-1 lead.
The inning had come unraveled for Cahill, who had already allowed a run-scoring groundout to Derek Jeter -- his first RBI since June 12, ending a career-long 19-game drought -- and hit Mark Teixeira with an 0-2 pitch to load the bases.
"My biggest thing, I didn't want to walk in a run right there," Cahill said. "I just tried to throw strikes. I wanted to go after [Rodriguez]. I wanted to prove I could get him out, but he beat me there."
It was Rodriguez's 21st career grand slam, tying him with Manny Ramirez for second place on baseball's all-time list. Only Lou Gehrig (23) had more. It was also New York's Major League-leading ninth grand slam of the year.
Rodriguez added a cherry on top with a solo blast in the sixth, his 597th career homer, marking Rodriguez's first multihomer game of the season.
"That's two games in a row now he picked me up," said Sabathia, who also benefited from an A-Rod homer last Thursday. "I hope he keeps doing it when I'm out there."
The Athletics got to Sabathia only in the first inning, as Kevin Kouzmanoff drove in Coco Crisp with an RBI double.
"CC's a tough pitcher," Crisp said. "He's one of the best in the game, so against him, you've got to find those big hits, those key hits. When you get a guy on, you have to move him over and get him in -- you can't let those opportunities pass you by. We were able to do that in the first and couldn't do it after that."
Sabathia's biggest challenge came in the fifth, when a two-out walk to Crisp loaded the bases, but Sabathia froze Daric Barton looking at a called third strike to end the inning.
"I was just trying to make pitches," Sabathia said. "They had people on base pretty much all night. Sado did a great job back there calling the game, and these guys played great defense. It worked out for me tonight."
Girardi said that Sabathia came through when needed.
"CC does a lot of that," Girardi said. "They had the bases loaded, and he made the pitches when he had to. The guys at the bottom gave him a little trouble tonight -- more than the guys at the top."
Barton wasn't a big fan of the call, slamming his bat on top of home plate and earning an immediate ejection from home-plate umpire Mike Winters.
But all that meant was that Barton wasn't around to watch as Sabathia walked off the mound following his season-high 118th offering, earning a standing ovation from his supporters in the crowd.
"I thought it was a good pitch," Sabathia said. "Obviously, he disagreed, but I thought it was a pretty good pitch."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.