Sabathia came within one out of his second complete game in three starts, Alex Rodriguez hit a tiebreaking two-run homer and Robinson Cano also went deep, leading the Yankees to a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday night.
"My changeup was really what kept me in the game," Sabathia said. "The only reason why I pitched eight innings tonight was because they were being aggressive early in the counts and I was able to get some swings on 1-0 and 0-1, which kept the pitch count down. I was able to get some weak fly balls and ground balls with that pitch. A couple of years ago, I probably would have been in trouble."
Sabathia (7-3) allowed two runs, one earned, and seven hits. The 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner has won his past four starts and gone at least eight innings in all four, his longest career streak in that department.
"You try to go out and give those guys in the bullpen as much rest as possible," Sabathia said. "Our job as starters is to go deep in the game and keep those guys fresh, because they're going to be a big part of our winning down the stretch."
Sabathia is 7-2 since April 23 after going 0-1 in his first four outings.
"CC's amazing. He's been a life-saver here for the last three years and an immovable rock," Rodriguez said. "He's a guy who starts winning streaks for us and stops losing streaks. He did that last Sunday, and hopefully today was another example of it."
Rookie Peter Bourjos chased Sabathia with a two-out RBI single in the ninth on the left-hander's 107th pitch, and Mariano Rivera retired Erick Aybar on a first-pitch popup to shortstop for his 15th save in 18 chances. It was Rivera's 1,003rd appearance, overtaking former Yankees Hall of Fame closer Goose Gossage for 14th place on the career list.
Rodriguez snapped a 1-all tie in the sixth with his 10th homer of the season and No. 623 for his career, driving Ervin Santana's 1-1 pitch into the rock pile in left-center field after a leadoff walk to Curtis Granderson. The two RBIs increased A-Rod's total to 1,864, tying Mel Ott for ninth place. Next up is Willie Mays at 1,903.
"I don't really think about that too much right now," Rodriguez said. "Once I'm done playing, I'll be able to take a deep breath and think about all those things and appreciate them. But right now, we're fighting for our lives with every pitch."
Santana (3-5) allowed three runs and seven hits in seven innings. The right-hander was moved up a day in the rotation after Dan Haren was scratched because of stiffness in his lower back.
Santana is 1-4 in his past seven starts against the Yankees after winning his first four.
Cano opened the scoring in the fourth with his 12th homer, driving a 3-2 slider into the lower seats in the right-field corner. Torii Hunter, a nine-time Gold Glove winner, made a valiant attempt to catch the ball and went headfirst into the first row but emerged unscathed.
"There's a tall wall, then there's a short wall. Out of my peripheral vision I saw the tall wall and I thought I was there," Hunter said. "I got close to catching it, but the short wall stopped me a little bit and tilted me over. It went out of my reach.
"I hit some guy. His friends were yelling: 'Get off my friend.' It was a Yankee fan."
Cano was optimistic, then became concerned when he saw Hunter closing in on the ball.
"I think if he caught that one, I would have run to right field," Cano said with a grin. "It's the kind of thing where you say 'Go, go go, go,' then you see him jumping and you say 'Oh, no.'"
Derek Jeter was 1-for-3 with a walk, leaving him with 2,985 hits -- tied with Sam Rice for 28th.
The Angels scored an unearned run in the fourth after Jeter committed his fourth error of the season, just two fewer than he had all of last year.
Kendrick was reinstated from the disabled list after missing 14 games because of a right hamstring strain. He went 0-for-3 after getting hit by a pitch his first time up. OF Reggie Willits was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake. ... A ceremonial first pitch was thrown by Dean Chance, who was the Angels' first Cy Young Award winner in 1964. In five starts against the Yankees that season, he was 4-0 with a 0.18 ERA, four complete games and three shutouts. The Angels' only other Cy Young winner -- Bartolo Colon -- will face his former team in Sunday's series finale just five days after pitching his first shutout since July 5, 2006.