NEW YORK — CC Sabathia was looking better than he had all season, maybe even most of last season, until David Ortiz lumbered up the first base line with a tapper toward third base that beat the pull shift.
“I was a little frustrated by the Ortiz hit,” Sabathia said. “After the check swing, I was upset, and it was 3-0 on Napoli before I calmed down.”
Mike Napoli singled and Sabathia’s old friend followed with a smash into the right-field seats, boosting the Boston Red Sox over the New York Yankees 4-2 on Friday night.
Jonny Gomes led off the sixth with another long ball off Sabathia, and the four-run inning spoiled a night for the left-hander that began with one-hit ball for five innings.
“I thought he threw pretty well. He’s run into a little bit of bad luck,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He’s light years ahead of where he was last year.”
Sabathia (1-2) pitched without the controversy that surrounded teammate Michael Pineda in a series-opening 4-1 win Thursday but also without the success. Pineda gave up one run and four hits in six-plus innings but was caught on camera with a brown substance on his hand. Joe Torre, Major League Baseball’s executive vice president for baseball operations, said in a statement Friday that Pineda will not be suspended.
Looking as if he was setting aside talk of being an ace on the decline, Sabathia was dominant for five innings. He allowed just David Ross’ third-inning double until Gomes led off the sixth with his first homer of the year, on an 89 mph four-seam fastball.
Four batters later, Sizemore crushed an 80 mph slider over right field for a 4-1 lead.
The duo were teammates in Cleveland before Sabathia was traded to Milwaukee during the 2008 season.
“You go out and compete, even against friends,” Sabathia said. “Tonight he got the best of me.”
Sabathia’s fastball velocity has declined from 94.1 mph in 2009, his first season in New York, to 89.7 mph this year entering Friday. Last year he gave up 45 of his major league-leading 122 runs on a career-high 28 homers allowed. He’s already yielded five this season.
Sabathia allowed four runs and six hits in seven innings, striking out nine and walking two. He’s given up at least four runs in each of his three starts and has a 6.63 ERA.
“I was a little bit better,” Sabathia said. “I haven’t really been able to put a whole game together.”
Lester (1-2) has put together three stellar starts. This, though, was the first time the Red Sox gave him enough runs to get a win. Boston scored just one run in his first two starts. Despite a 2.51 ERA coming in, Lester was at risk of falling to 0-3 for the first time in his career.
“Good to have a rally there in that inning,” Sizemore said. “We’ve kind of struggled with Jon on the mound. It’s nice to pick him up and get some runs for him.”
The left-hander was lifted with two outs in the seventh after Kelly Johnson singled to pull the Yankees within two runs, his first hit in 15 career at-bats against Lester. Junichi Tazawa relieved with runners at the corners and retired Derek Jeter on a flyout.
Jeter was the leadoff batter in the Yankees’ batting order for first time since breaking his left ankle in the 2012 AL championship series opener. He beat out an infield single in four at-bats.
Lester allowed Alfonso Soriano’s homer starting the second and six hits overall. He walked two and struck out six in improving to 12-5 in 27 starts against New York.
Tazawa pitched 1 1-3 innings of one-hit relief, and Edward Mujica was perfect in the ninth for his first save with Boston. Closer Koji Uehara was bothered by shoulder stiffness before the game and was held out as a precaution.
“We felt it was best to stay away from him,” Farrell said. “It’ll be a day-to-day thing.”