NEW YORK — When Rafael Soriano gave up a tying homer in the ninth inning to spoil CC Sabathia’s dominant start, the Yankees didn’t get down. They knew what they needed to do to keep their AL East lead.
Russell Martin led off the bottom of the 10th inning with a homer off Sean Doolittle, and New York maintained its one-game division lead by beating the Oakland Athletics 2-1 Friday night for its sixth straight win.
“Good teams get each other’s back,” Martin said.
Sabathia pitched encouraging three-hit ball over eight innings to help the Yankees stay ahead of Baltimore, which beat Boston 4-2 for its fifth straight win. The A’s, losers of four of five, dropped a game back of the Orioles for the top wild-card spot. Oakland started the day with a 4-game lead over the Angels.
Pinch-hitter Brandon Moss hit a towering home run to right field with one out in the ninth off Soriano to tie it 1-all and stun the boisterous crowd of 40,759 into silence. It was Soriano’s fourth blown save in 46 chances.
“His arm may have been a little dead today,” Joe Girardi said of Soriano, who saved both games of a doubleheader Wednesday against Toronto.
But Soriano disagreed. He said he had “normal soreness” and would go through his routine Saturday before letting his manager know if he will be available.
Curtis Granderson had a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning off Jarrod Parker and Ichiro Suzuki continued his torrid pace with two more hits — one getting caught in Parker’s jersey.
The Yankees lost four-straight one-run games in Oakland in mid-July that began a summer swoon in which they blew a 10-game division lead. Martin’s second walk-off homer this season gave the Yankees their 11th win in 15 games.
“You can feel that playoff weather coming,” Martin said. “I like it. I enjoy it.”
David Robertson (2-7) pitched a perfect 10th for the victory. Doolittle (1-1) pitched the ninth before giving up Martin’s homer on an 0-1 pitch.
The catcher flinged his helmet almost all the way to first base as he approached home then was engulfed by his teammates as he stepped on home plate.
“Right off the bat I knew it was gone,” Sabathia said. “He called a great game tonight and kept the guys off-balance and it worked out.”
Parker was in line for a loss before Moss’ homer despite matching Sabathia for eight innings. He gave up six hits and struck out seven in his first start at Yankee Stadium.
“It’s really frustrating,” Doolittle said. “He did such an unbelievable job going toe-to-toe with Sabathia.”
Sabathia’s performance had become one of the biggest question marks in the Yankees rotation the past several weeks. The big lefty was 0-3 in his last four starts and he gave up leads in each outing. After two stints on the disabled list, his velocity was down but he insisted he was OK. Girardi said Sabathia was struggling with the command of his sinker and changeup.
He quickly put that to rest by striking out the side in the first with three breaking pitches. His velocity went up as the innings went by, ending the sixth by blowing a 96 mph a fastball past Jonny Gomes.
“I was just trying not to overthrow. I felt pretty good coming out of the bullpen,” Sabathia said. “I just wanted to make sure I kept my delivery together and make sure I commanded the ball. The velocity will come and go so it’s up to me to make pitches.”
After a walk to Gomes with one out in the first, Sabathia retired 14 in a row before Stephen Drew singled leading off the sixth.
Sabathia gave up another hit to Drew with one out in the eighth. With two outs, Collin Cowgill beat out an infield single and Sabathia grazed Gomes with a pitch to load the bases.
Pitching coach Larry Rothschild visited the mound as Robertson warmed up in the bullpen. But Sabathia remained and got J.J. Reddick to fly out to left field on the first pitch of the at-bat, ending the inning.
The A’s lead the majors in striking out and they fanned 11 times while walking twice against Sabathia.
“You want him feeling good about himself, confident,” Martin said. “I think he definitely needed this start for himself.”
Any questions about Parker being nervous in his first start in the Bronx were dismissed right away with an eight pitch inning. He didn’t give up a hit until he lost Suzuki’s bouncer back to the mound with one out in the third inning in his jersey. Parker grimaced in frustration as he failed to pull the ball out of his green and gold top.
The hit was Suzuki’s 10th in his last 13 at-bats. Suzuki also had a hit in the sixth but was thrown out trying to stretch it to a double.
The Yankees scored in the fourth when Nick Swisher led off with a more traditional hit, a lined single to right field. Alex Rodriguez followed with a sharp single to center field. Granderson then hit a sacrifice fly.
Derek Jeter extended his hitting streak to a season high-tying streak of 15 games with a sixth-inning single.
ANGELS 6, WHITE SOX 2
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ervin Santana struck out 11 while pitching seven innings of two-hit ball and the Angels gained ground in the playoff race.
Mike Trout and Kendrys Morales homered for Los Angeles, which pulled within 3½ games of Oakland for the second AL wild card.
Chicago’s lead in the AL Central was trimmed to 1½ games over second-place Detroit, which had its series opener against Minnesota postponed by rain. White Sox starter Jake Peavy (11-12) gave up five runs and eight hits in five innings.
Alejandro De Aza got the White Sox off to a fast start with a leadoff homer in the first, but Santana (9-12) quickly recovered and retired 21 of his final 23 batters.
Ramirez’s 11 strikeouts matched a career high and he only walked one while throwing 108 pitches.
ORIOLES 4, RED SOX 2
BOSTON — Matt Wieters drove in three runs, Miguel Gonzalez pitched 6 1-3 solid innings and the Orioles remained one game behind the Yankees in the AL East.
The Orioles also moved one game ahead of Oakland for the top wild-card spot.
Jon Lester (9-13) lost for the first time in his 21 career starts against Baltimore. He had been 14-0, the longest winning streak against the Orioles franchise for a pitcher at the start of his career since at least 1901. It had been the longest current winning streak by an active pitcher against any team. But he’s 0-1 in his last four starts against them, all Orioles victories.
Gonzalez (7-4) allowed two runs and seven hits as the Orioles improved to 6-1 this season at Fenway Park. Jim Johnson pitched the ninth for his club-record 46th save.
RAYS 12, BLUE JAYS 1
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — James Shields pitched seven shutout innings and Tampa Bay’s suddenly potent offense scored runs in bunches to help the Rays continue an uphill battle to remain in playoff contention.
Ben Zobrist and Jose Molina homered in support of Shields (15-9), who limited the Blue Jays to six singles and struck out nine to reach 200 for the second straight year. He fanned J.P. Arencibia leading off the second inning, giving the Rays the American League single-season record for strikeouts.
Luke Scott drove in four runs with a pair of doubles for the Rays, who moved within 4½ games of Oakland for the second AL wild card.
Zobrist hit a solo homer in the first and Molina had a two-run shot in the second against Carlos Villanueva (7-6), who allowed seven runs and eight hits in 2 1-3 innings.
MARINERS 6, RANGERS 3
SEATTLE — Miguel Olivo hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning to help Seattle stop a four-game slide.
Justin Smoak had three hits and scored two runs for the Mariners, who had dropped six of seven overall. Carlos Triunfel hit a tiebreaking RBI double in the fourth and eventually came around to score on an error by third baseman Michael Young.
Seattle starter Hisashi Iwakuma (7-5) allowed three runs and eight hits in seven innings. Tom Wilhelmsen worked the ninth for his 28th save in 32 chances.
David Murphy had three hits and drove in three runs for Texas, which remained four games ahead of Oakland in the AL West.
Rangers starter Martin Perez (1-2) gave up three runs and six hits in four innings.
ROYALS 6, INDIANS 3
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Luis Mendoza pitched into the seventh inning in his first start since a bout with strep throat, leading Kansas City to the victory.
Mike Moustakas and Brayan Pena each drove in two runs for the Royals, who have won three straight and four of six. Mendoza wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam in the first and allowed two runs and eight hits in six-plus innings.
The Indians have lost 40 of 52 games since July 26 when they were 50-49 and trailed AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox by 3½ games. They have lost six straight against Kansas City and eight of nine overall in the season series.
Mendoza (8-9), who was scratched from a Wednesday start with the illness, struck out three and walked two. Greg Holland worked the ninth for his 15th save in 18 opportunities.
Justin Masterson (11-15) lost his third straight start. He was charged with four runs and seven hits in six innings.