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Yankees looking to stretch win streak to five

06/12/2012 12:47 PM ET
By The Associated Press

(AP) -- CC Sabathia, who owns 20 career interleague wins to match baseball's seventh-highest all-time total, has enjoyed very good run support all season.

The New York Yankees have to feel good about maintaining that trend as they get ready to face one of baseball's worst pitchers.

The visiting Yankees can stretch their winning streak to five Tuesday night as they face Atlanta Braves left-hander Mike Minor for the first time.

New York (35-25) won 3-0 in Monday's opener of this three-game set as Ivan Nova pitched seven innings for his eighth victory.

Sabathia (7-3, 3.69 ERA) can join Nova as an eight-game winner. He enters with a 20-8 interleague record and a 3.45 ERA in 42 outings, including 8-2 with a 2.76 ERA in 12 with the Yankees.

He hasn't always been at his best this year, though. Sabathia struck out a season-high 12 last Thursday but gave up five runs over seven innings in a 7-3 defeat to Tampa Bay.

The Yankees are 8-4 in the starts by the ace left-hander, who has enjoyed a run-support average of 6.43.

Sabathia is 1-1 with a 3.24 ERA in two career starts against the Braves (34-27). He usually enjoys getting the chance to swing a bat in NL parks as a career
.250 hitter.

The Yankees are an AL-best 12-7 against left-handed starters, and should be eagerly awaiting their first look at Minor (3-4, 6.57) - tied with Kansas City's Luke Hochevar for baseball's worst ERA.

Minor is 0-2 with a 9.56 ERA in his last three home outings. His 14 homers allowed are the most by an NL pitcher while New York has gone deep 93 times to lead the Majors.

The southpaw, however, can feel somewhat good about a five-inning stint Thursday in which he gave up one run despite walking five to get credit for an 8-2 victory at Miami. He held an opponent to fewer than four runs for the first time since April 24.

"He didn't buckle," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "There was progress there."

The Yankees have now won 14 of 18 after Nova's effort Monday helped lower the rotation's major league-best ERA in June to 1.76.

"Our starting pitching has been really good, and that's how you put streaks together," manager Joe Girardi said.

New York moved into a tie with the Rays atop the AL East by showcasing their trademark terrific defense as Nick Swisher took a possible homer away from Brian McCann in the fourth inning.

The Yankees' 24 errors are the fewest in the Majors.

"It's been so much fun coming to the ballpark," Swisher said. "I feel collectively as a team we've been playing some great ball."

The Braves have dropped back-to-back games after a season-high six-game win streak. They were shut out at home for the second time this year.

Girardi said he held out closer Rafael Soriano, who developed "a little blister" on his right index finger while blowing his first save Sunday against the Mets.

"He said he was OK, but I'm not comfortable," Girardi said. "So give him one more day."

A key possible matchup to watch late is if Soriano faces Dan Uggla, who is 5-for-11 with three homers against him.

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