- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
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NEW YORK -- As he labored through the previous six starts, his team losing each time he toed the hill, it ate at CC Sabathia that the Yankees kept sliding in the standings when he started.
"I think that matters more than anything else to me," Sabathia said. "Not that I get the win but the team wins the game that I'm pitching in."
With his finest game in more than a month, Sabathia finally helped his team to victory.
Sabathia won for the first time since July 3 as he threw six innings of three-run ball in the Yankees' 14-7 win over the Angels on Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium. Sabathia gave up three hits, walked six and struck out seven.
"Just battling. I felt like I had good pretty good stuff," Sabathia said. "Trying to make pitches. I got into some trouble, and was able to make some pitches and get out."
The veteran had last won against Minnesota, going 0-4 with a 7.00 ERA in his six starts since then. The six-game winless streak tied his career high, which he had reached twice before.
Sabathia (10-10) didn't dominate the Angels, as they strung together quality at-bats against him, but he kept them at bay long enough for his offense to break open the game. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he thought Sabathia was excellent despite shaky control.
"I was really pleased with what CC did tonight," Girardi said.
Sabathia could have posted a better final line, but his defense didn't cooperate, making three errors and failing to make other plays that extended innings.
In the third, a pair of Yankees errors led to the Angels taking a 3-1 lead, but Sabathia rebounded after walking Chris Nelson with the bases loaded to force in a run. He struck out Josh Hamilton and retired Erick Aybar to end the frame.
"That's baseball. I was able to pick these guys up today," Sabathia said. "I felt like during the year I haven't been able to make pitches to eliminate some of the errors, so I was able to do that tonight."
While he didn't get any defensive help, Sabathia was aided by a baserunning blunder by the Angels in the sixth. With the Yankees ahead 4-3 with the bases loaded and one out, Nelson attempted to tag on a sacrifice fly, but the umpire ruled he left early, and the Yankees instead recorded the inning-ending double play. The Yankees scored four in the bottom of the frame.
"I've never been a part of that but I'm glad it worked out for us," Sabathia said.
If the Yankees are going to make a push for the playoffs, they're going to need Sabathia to give the team consistency, just like Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova do almost every time out. Tuesday was a step in the right direction for a starter who hasn't had much to be pleased about lately.
"It felt good. Just to be able to battle," Sabathia said. "Have some stuff go wrong and still be able to make pitches and get out of situations."