The Yankees made sure Sabathia had plenty of cushioning to remain in breezy command even on his off night, backed by a 15-hit attack that supported yet another victory over the Orioles -- this one, an 8-3 win at Camden Yards.
"It's always great to get an early lead," Sabathia said. "It kind of takes some of the pressure off and you can just go out and try to pound the strike zone."
Walking to the mound with two runs already on the board, the left-hander improved to 10-1 against the Orioles -- his most wins against any American League East opponent.
Sabathia completed 7 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on 11 hits with two walks and five strikeouts, walking off to a warm ovation from a largely pro-New York crowd of 17,248.
"Even though he was struggling with his command, he was still finding a way to throw strikes," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He put the ball in play and didn't walk people.
"When you're able to score that many runs for CC, it's usually a pretty good recipe. He's going to win most of those games for you."
The Yankees battered Baltimore starter Jeremy Guthrie for seven runs (six earned) on six hits in 4 2/3 innings.
New York put up two quick runs in the first inning as left fielder Lou Montanez misplayed a Nick Johnson hit that allowed Derek Jeter to score, and Alex Rodriguez added a sacrifice fly.
Nick Swisher stroked a two-run triple and Jeter added a sacrifice fly in the second, and Robinson Cano belted a solo homer, his sixth, to make it 6-0 in the third. Francisco Cervelli completed the scoring charged to Guthrie with an RBI single off Mark Hendrickson in the fifth.
"Today I thought we swung the bats well," Jeter said. "Guthrie's stuff makes for a very uncomfortable at-bat, but we had good at-bats and scored some runs with CC on the mound. It was a good day for us."
Jeter added a run-scoring single in the sixth off Hendrickson, but the real milestone was his first-inning double -- the 442nd of his career, tying him with Don Mattingly for third place on the Yankees' all-time list. Jeter claimed to be unaware of the mark.
"I had no clue," Jeter said.
The support allowed Sabathia to coast against the struggling Orioles, who had defeated the Yankees on Tuesday for just their fourth victory of the season. But Sabathia proved to be too much, even as he left the game scowling.
"He made quality pitches with men on base right from the very first inning," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "We had a chance in the first inning to get a two-out hit and it didn't happen. It seemed like when he had to make quality pitches with two outs and guys on base, he did, and he was able to repeat it inning after inning after inning."
Miguel Tejada had a run-scoring groundout in the third inning, Nolan Reimold notched a sacrifice fly in the sixth and Nick Markakis belted a solo homer -- his first -- in the seventh, but Sabathia had the benefit of two double plays and pitched his way out of trouble.
"I felt a lot better earlier in the game than I did later," Sabathia said. "I wanted to throw a little better, but a win is a win. These guys scored a lot of runs and played some great defense. I'm very appreciative."
Sabathia was done after 111 pitches, allowing Joba Chamberlain to get the last out of the eighth before Sergio Mitre recorded three outs that put Sabathia's third victory of the year on the board.
"He battled through it and did a nice job," Girardi said. "He got some big double-play balls and shut down some rallies. He did what he had to do to win this game for us, and that's what CC does. You're not always going to go out there with your best stuff."
The only blip on a rocking-chair evening for the Yankees came in the second inning, as Jorge Posada was forced to leave the game after being hit with a Guthrie pitch.
No tests were scheduled for Posada, who was diagnosed with a right knee contusion, but Girardi expressed frustration with the Baltimore hurler -- especially after Guthrie also clipped Mark Teixeira in the right elbow on March 29 and forced the Yankees first baseman to miss some spring time.
"I don't think he's doing it on purpose, but he hits a lot of people," Girardi said. "It's frustrating for us. We know he's going to pitch inside and I don't have a problem with pitching inside. But what do you expect, me to be happy our guys are getting plunked? I'm frustrated by it. I wish he had better command."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less