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Yankees' Sabathia Looks For 15th Victory Tonight Against Royals

(Sports Network) - CC Sabathia tries for his 15th win of the season this evening when the New York Yankees open a four-game series against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium.

Sabathia, who can tie Tampa's David Price for the American League lead in wins with a victory tonight, was terrific in beating the Boston Red Sox on Saturday, as he held them to a pair of runs and six hits in eight innings to run his record to 14-5, while lowering his earned run average to 3.14.

"Tremendous. It's what we needed," manager Joe Girardi said. "CC stepped up for us today. He gave up two runs in the second inning, and for the most part, he shut them down."

Sabathia beat the Royals earlier in the year and is 16-10 lifetime against them with a 3.30 ERA in 33 starts.

The big left-hander will likely have Mark Teixeira behind him for tonight's opener. Teixeira had missed the two-game series in Texas to be with his wife, who gave birth to the couple's third child.

New York didn't miss Teixeira on Wednesday, as Marcus Thames capped a two-run ninth with an RBI single, helping the Yankees rally past Texas, 7-6, to split the brief series at Rangers Ballpark.

Thames went 3-for-5 with a solo homer for the Yankees, who moved 1 1/2 games ahead of the Rays in the AL East standings. Tampa Bay lost to the Tigers on Wednesday.

Alex Rodriguez, Brett Gardner, Derek Jeter, and Lance Berkman each had an RBI for New York, which trailed by five runs after five innings of play.

Javier Vazquez lasted just 4 1/3 innings in the start, giving up six runs on eight hits. Kerry Wood (2-4) pitched two scoreless frames of relief to pick up the win and closer Mariano Rivera recorded his 24th save of the season.

Rivera, the loser in Tuesday's opener, allowed a leadoff triple to Elvis Andrus in the bottom of the ninth, but retired the next three batters to strand him at third.

"That's Mo, right through the heart of their order, three tremendous hitters," Girardi said. "I was thinking we're in trouble here, but if anyone can do it, Mo can."

David Murphy and Mitch Moreland each drove in two runs for the Rangers, who have lost three of four. Josh Hamilton went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI.

Texas starter Cliff Lee entered the game having gone at least eight innings in each of his last 10 starts. That impressive run came to a halt Wednesday night. Lee lasted 6 1/3 frames, allowing four runs on eight hits. The left- hander also struck out 11 and walked zero. It was the longest such streak since Toronto's Pat Hentgen went 12 in a row back in 1996.

Kansas City, meanwhile, enters tonight's tilt riding a four-game losing streak after getting swept in a three-game set by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim that culminated with a 2-1, 10-inning loss on Wednesday at Angel Stadium.

Tonight the Royals will turn to lefty Bruce Chen, who is 7-5 with a 4.44 ERA. Chen won his second straight start on Saturday in Seattle, holding the Mariners to a run and three hits in seven innings.

Chen lost to Sabathia back on July 22 and is just 1-4 in 15 outings (11 starts) against the Yankees with a 6.83 ERA.

New York took three of four from the Royals earlier in the year after going 4-2 in the series a season ago.