By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, April 18- The Yankees won their seventh of the last eight games, 4-3, over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday night. Outstanding Yankees hurling held opponents to three runs or less in six of the seven wins.
Yankees starters during that stretch gave up 15 earned runs in 52.1 innings for a sterling ERA of 2.30. The performance of the Yankees ace, CC Sabathia, on Wednesday continued the exceptional success of the starting staff during that period.
Despite a less than effective first inning during which he walked a batter and gave up three hits including a two-run home run to Paul Goldschmidt, who has reached base in all 14 games he played in 2013. Sabathia earned the win by how effectively he adjusted during his next seven innings on the mound. In that seven inning period, he surrendered only three scattered hits and one run.
The victory was Sabathia’s third straight. In those three successful contests, the starter pitched 23 innings and yielded only four earned runs, an ERA of 1.71. His control was quite impressive; four batters were issued walks while 19 fanned.
Yankee skipper Joe Girardi uttered words of praise for his ace starter after the game concluded, “He finds a way to keep us in the game. There’s a lot to be learned from how he goes about his business.”
Several questioned the manager about Sabathia’s lower velocity of his fast ball this season and then heard this response from Girardi, “To me. He’s really the same guy; he just doesn’t have the same velocity. He just has to hit his spots. If he does, he’s really going to be effective.”
The ninth inning, as it does in every close Yankees contest, belongs to closer Mariano Rivera. Mo, who has tied a major league record by saving at least one game for 18 consecutive seasons, saved another on Wednesday. Rivera retired the three batters he faced in the ninth to earn his fourth save of 2013 and a record 612th of his career.
The Yankees runs were scored in the seventh and eighth innings. Those responsible were new arrivals in 2013 and less heralded Yankees holdovers from the past. Ben Francisco singled with one out in the seventh. A two-out rally began with a double by Brennan Bosch. A walk to Eduardo Nuñez loaded the bases. The first Yankees run of the evening after Jayson Nix walked. The game was tied at 3 by a two-run single by Brett Gardner.
The game-winning hit was a first pitch home run hit by pinch hitter Travis Hafner with two out in the bottom of the eighth.
Phil Hughes (0-2) will start the final game of the series on Thursday night. Patrick Corbin (2-0) will start for the Diamondbacks.
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