Cano hit a tiebreaking double in the seventh inning and matched a career high with four hits, leading Sabathia and New York to a 5-3 victory over the woeful Washington Nationals on Tuesday night.
Sabathia (6-4) held Washington in check after light-hitting Anderson Hernandez's three-run shot in the fifth gave the Nationals the lead. The 6-foot-7 left-hander departed after walking Nick Johnson with two outs in the eighth inning and received a standing ovation.
"That's what I've talked about all year," Sabathia said, "is just if I do give up hits and a couple runs or get behind just keeping us in the game, keeping us close where we can put a rally together and score a couple runs late in the game."
Brian Bruney, activated off the disabled list earlier in the day, made just his second appearance since April 21 and got Ryan Zimmerman to ground out. Mariano Rivera worked the ninth for his 15th save in 16 chances.
"Just all around a good game," New York manager Joe Girardi said.
Jeter wasn't available after the win but Girardi said the captain thought he may have been injured when Gary Sheffield slid into second during a double play in the Yankees' 15-0 over the New York Mets on Sunday.
"He said he woke up a little sore yesterday and it was sore to run today," Girardi said, "and we noticed for the first time when he was running tonight, that he had a little hitch. It seemed to get a little bit worse and worse."
A spokesman for the team said Jeter wasn't going to get any tests done and Girardi said he's day to day.
Shairon Martis pitched six effective innings for the Nationals, who have lost 16 of 19 and fallen to a major league-worst 16-46. Washington manager Manny Acta, whose team is 6-24 on the road, said before the game he wasn't concerned about a Foxsports.com report that he will be fired and replaced by hitting coach Jim Riggleman.
Martis allowed four hits and one earned run before handing a 3-2 lead over to the Nationals bullpen, which entered 5-22 with a 5.59 ERA.
"His sinker was working real good but he started a little up and that's why he threw so many pitches," catcher Wil Nieves said of Martis. "His sinker was moving so good it was running away from the corner."
Johnny Damon started the seventh with a single off former Yankees reliever Ron Villone (3-4) and scored all the way from first when Mark Teixeira followed with a double off the wall in left-center field. Alex Rodriguez struck out, drawing some boos from the crowd, but Cano drove Villone's 2-2 pitch over center fielder Elijah Dukes to put New York ahead.
"I thought it was going to be caught but thank God he missed it," said Cano, who also singled in a run in the third.
Cano picked up his 14th career four-hit game. He is batting .330 (34-for-103) with 22 RBIs in his last 25 games.
Rodriguez is 8-for-48 (.167) in June, dropping his batting average to .224.
Washington trailed 2-0 before Hernandez went deep for his second career homer and first since Sept. 19, 2006, for the New York Mets against Florida. The speedy second baseman hit Sabathia's 1-2 pitch into the first row of seats beyond the left-field wall.
"I don't look to hit home runs," Hernandez said. "I just try to hit line drives or ground balls that go through holes."
Hernandez's drive was the 116th homer at new Yankee Stadium, where there has been at least one every game.
Sabathia has pitched at least seven innings in each of his last eight starts and 10 times total this season.
He got a big assist from his defense. Rodriguez made a solid stop on Johnson's hard-hit grounder to third in the fourth and center fielder Melky Cabrera sprinted in before making a diving grab on Dukes' blooper in the sixth.
Rodriguez greeted fans in Monument Park before the game. One spectator told A-Rod he was a Phillies fan but he liked him. ... RHP Jose Veras was designated for assignment to clear a roster spot for Bruney. ... Washington activated RHP Kip Wells from the DL and optioned RHP Jason Bergmann to Triple-A Syracuse. ... The Yankees didn't make an error for only the third time in 13 games.