Yankees-Red Sox Preview

The New York Yankees ended a seven-game losing streak to the

Boston Red Sox by posting their season-high eighth straight victory

overall to gain sole possession of the AL East lead.

Now it’s up to major league wins leader CC Sabathia to help them

extend that advantage.

It won’t be easy for the Yankees ace since he has lost all three

previous 2011 starts against the Red Sox heading into Saturday’s

matchup at Fenway Park.

New York (69-42) rallied for a 3-2 victory Friday to take a

one-game lead in the East, gaining sole possession of the lead for

the first time since July 6. The Yankees had lost eight of their

first nine meetings with the Red Sox (68-43).

“They are human,” right fielder Nick Swisher said. “They can be

beat. It was a big lift for us.”

Boston hasn’t been beatable this year for Sabathia (16-5, 2.55

ERA), who is seeking to become the first to 17 wins. Sabathia has

posted a 6.16 ERA versus the Red Sox in 2011, compared to his 2.11

ERA against everyone else.

Dustin Pedroia is 5 for 7 against Sabathia this year and Jacoby

Ellsbury 3 for 6.

Pedroia is hitting .398 and Ellsbury .366 since the start of

July, combining for 38 extra-base hits – the most by two teammates

in that span. Pedroia is also batting .471 against the Yankees this

season and Ellsbury .368.

“I think it’s the speed at the top, with Ellsbury and Pedroia,

and you’ve got (Carl) Crawford in there with the heavy hitters,”

Sabathia told MLB.com. “You don’t want to let those guys get on and

start causing havoc on the bases.”

Since his last outing against Boston on June 9, Sabathia has

gone 9-1 with a 1.76 ERA over 10 starts. He allowed two runs over

eight innings Monday in a 3-2 win over the White Sox.

Sabathia, 6-0 with a 1.37 ERA in seven daytime starts, has

pitched at least seven innings in each of his last 10 outings

overall – the longest such stretch by a Yankee since Jack McDowell

in 1995.

The Yankees, who are a major league-best 31-7 in day games, last

won nine straight May 13-21, 2009.

Boston is seeking to avoid its first three-game slide since

dropping four straight June 21-25.

“They had been playing well, and they had some motivation to

beat us,” Crawford said. “(The race) is probably going to be close.

A photo finish.”

The Yankees got 4 1-3 scoreless innings Friday from a bullpen

that has produced an AL-best 3.00 ERA. Their relievers have yielded

one run in their last 23 road innings, striking out 27 while

walking three.

Left-handed reliever Boone Logan won Friday, striking out Adrian

Gonzalez with the bases loaded to end the fifth inning with Boston

up 2-0.

The Red Sox will start John Lackey (9-8, 6.23), who is 4-0 with

a 3.41 ERA in his last five. Opponents are still batting .299

against him in that stretch, and he gave up five runs over 6 2-3

innings in Monday’s 9-6 loss to Cleveland.

The veteran right-hander is facing the Yankees for the second

time this year after allowing six runs over five innings in a 9-6

win April 8. Mark Teixeira and Jorge Posada are each hitting .333

against Lackey.