Teixeira homers twice to help Sabathia, Yankees beat A’s 5-4

NEW YORK (AP) Jacoby Ellsbury’s return from the disabled list gives the Yankees a deeper lineup. Still, manager Joe Girardi knows what really propels New York.

All-Star slugger Mark Teixeira homered twice after Scott Kazmir left his start with triceps tightness, and CC Sabathia won for the first time in a month when the Yankees held off the Oakland Athletics 5-4 Wednesday night.

”That’s how we’re going to win games, by hitting the ball out of the ballpark,” Girardi said. ”We’re designed to do that here.”

Stephen Drew, who entered as a late-game defensive replacement in a 1-for-24 slump, homered off Fernando Abad in the eighth inning to give New York a 5-2 lead. Andrew Miller, just off the disabled list as well, nearly gave it all back in his first appearance since June 9, allowing a two-run shot in the ninth to Marcus Semien – a pitch Miller said he wanted to throw.

Stephen Vogt reached second on third baseman Gregorio Petit’s two-out throwing error. But Petit charged Ben Zobrist’s soft grounder and fired a quick throw to first for the final out, with Teixeira making a tough stretch. That gave Miller his 18th save in 18 chances.

”That was a heck of a play to finish the game. Especially after the play before, to be able to step up and do that is huge,” Miller said. ”That was a heck of a play on his and Tex’s end.”

Sabathia revealed he was pitching on eight days’ rest because he had his knee drained after the team returned home from Anaheim, California. He said it was part of the plan since having surgery that cut short his season last year, and he felt really good with the rest.

Sabathia (4-8) recovered from two rocky innings to pitch into the sixth. He allowed two runs but struck out only one, the first time he fanned fewer than two since Aug. 7, 2013.

Kazmir left after the third inning with a 2-1 lead, having yielded an unearned run, but Evan Scribner needed just four pitches to give up the edge. Teixeira led off the fourth with a long ball and then opened the sixth with another, his 22nd of the season. Scribner (2-2) has allowed 11 home runs, most among major league relievers.

Kazmir thought his problem might’ve been caused by dehydration on a muggy evening.

”That’s kind of what it felt like – just a little bit of tightness, maybe like cramping or something like that,” said Kazmir, who allowed two hits. ”It definitely felt very minor and I wanted to go back out there and still pitch.”

Dellin Betances bounced back with a perfect eighth after giving up a go-ahead homer to Brett Lawrie in the 10th inning of Tuesday night’s loss. Betances slid back into the setup role with Miller’s return.

”I wasn’t real worried,” Girardi said with a laugh.

Jose Pirela had a tiebreaking sacrifice fly for the Yankees, who improved to 2-4 against Oakland this season.

Girardi skipped Sabathia on Sunday. The former ace had given up 10 runs and 14 hits over his previous two starts and had not won since June 7. The time off didn’t initially appear to have helped.

The A’s made good contact against Sabathia in the first two innings, hitting sharp liners and scoring twice in the second on four hits.

Josh Phegley and Mark Canha had one-out RBI singles in the second.

Girardi got help up in the Yankees’ bullpen, but Sabathia recovered and didn’t yield another hit until the fifth. He was lifted with one out in the sixth following Smolinski’s single. Called up Tuesday, it was the first hit for Smolinski with Oakland.

”I think it was just command of both sides of the plate,” Sabathia said about what changed for him during the outing. ”It feels good.”

Sabathia allowed seven hits and two walks in 5 1-3 innings.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Yankees: Ellsbury went 1 for 4 during his first game in seven weeks and said he’s preparing to play Thursday afternoon even though he hasn’t been told if he will. … 3B Chase Headley was held out because of a sore right calf. After the game, Headley said an MRI showed some inflammation. He’d be surprised if he played Thursday.

BALD SUPPORT

Several Yankees, including Alex Rodriguez and Girardi, donned bald caps in support of Brett Gardner, one of five candidates for the final AL All-Star spot. ”(hash)Vote Gardy” was written on the caps. New York showed a ”(hash)Votegardy” video before the fourth inning – general manager Brian Cashman joined in. Gardner was in fourth place in voting that ends Friday.

UP NEXT

Athletics: Jesse Chavez has struggled over his last six starts, posting a 5.00 ERA and a .297 opponents’ batting average. But he’s been really good against the Yankees throughout his career: 4-0 with a 1.63 ERA in five appearances, three starts.

Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka has not won in four starts, the longest drought of his brief major league career. After giving up a career-high three homers in two straight starts, the right-hander did not allow a long ball in his last outing.