NEW YORK -- On the same day Andy Pettitte announced he would be leaving baseball at the end of this season, a vintage CC Sabathia returned to the Yankees, and not a moment too soon. Sabathia's best performance in more than three months, coupled with a historic and dramatic home run by Alex Rodriguez, gave the Yankees reason to believe in miracles, for one more day at least.
Their 5-1 win over the San Francisco Giants and Tim Lincecum, pending the outcome of the Rays-Orioles and Rangers-Royals games, could move them to within 2 1/2 games of the second AL wild card with eight games left to play.
Move over, Lou: Rodriguez came into his fourth at-bat of the game with one hit in his previous 25 at-bats and the game on the line. He came out of it with baseball's all-time career grand slam record, and the Yankees had a 5-1 lead. A-Rod belted a 2-1 fastball from ex-Yankee George Kontos into the right-field seats with the bases loaded and two out in the seventh, his seventh home run of the season, No. 654 of his career (six behind Willie Mays) and the 24th grand slam of his career, breaking the record set more than 70 years ago by the Iron Horse, Lou Gehrig.
Good to CC ya: Despite working with men on base in each of his first four innings, Sabathia turned in his best outing since May 31 -- that's right, it wasn't even summer yet! -- working into the eighth inning and holding the Giants to just one run on seven hits and three walks. Sabathia got help from his infield, which turned two double plays behind him, and from J.R. Murphy, who threw out Hunter Pence trying to steal in the second inning after a leadoff walk. It was the first outing in which Sabathia allowed fewer than three runs since July 3.
Sweet 16: Alfonso Soriano belted his 16th home run as a Yankee -- and 33rd overall -- on an 0-2 pitch from Lincecum leading off the second to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead. Soriano's pace in 51 games as a Yankee translates roughly to 51 HRs and 160 RBIs over 162 games. Wait'll next year!
No lead is safe: Sabathia continued his destructive practice of giving back leads this season by surrendering the one-run edge Soriano's HR gave him by walking the Giants' No. 9 hitter, Brandon Crawford, leading off the third, and surrendering an RBI double into the left-center gap to Juan Perez. Sabathia allowed six baserunners -- four on hits, plus two walks -- in the first three innings.