HOUSTON -- CC Sabathia was glad to finally help out on Tuesday night after watching the rest of the pitching staff start to turn things around while he struggled for more than a month notching loss after loss.
Sabathia (6-8) allowed four hits and struck out five to pick up his first win since June 16 after going 0-4 and allowing 31 runs -- 29 earned -- combined in his past six starts.
"I've been doing everything I can and trying not to get frustrated," he said. "We've been playing pretty well, we're fighting right now and to be able to help us get a win feels good."
Things didn't look good early on Tuesday night when he allowed a solo home run to Marwin Gonzalez in the first inning. But he settled in after that, allowing only one single over the next five innings.
The Yankees built a five-run lead thanks in part to a two-run triple by Aaron Hicks by the time Evan Gattis homered to start Houston's seventh and cut it to 6-2. Sabathia was lifted after a two-out single by Carlos Gomez in that inning.
"I thought he had really good stuff tonight," manager Joe Girardi said. "He gave up the homer earlier, similar to last night, and then he got to the seventh and gave up another home to Gattis -- he got in the wrong count there -- but his stuff was really good."
Houston starter Doug Fister (10-7) allowed nine hits and six runs, which both tied season highs, in 4 2/3 innings for the loss.
"I didn't execute today," Fister said. "Basically, I let my team down. It was execution. I left balls over the middle."
Gonzalez added a solo homer in the eighth for his first career multi-home run game. His first home run was right-handed and the second one from the left to make the switch-hitter the first Houston player to homer from both sides in the same game since Lance Berkman did it in 2006.
Tuesday's game was the first time Sabathia had allowed fewer than four runs since that win on June 16. Since then he'd allowed a season-high six runs in two games and a season-worst nine hits in another start.
Starlin Castro's run-scoring single with two outs in the third pushed the lead to 3-1.
Fister plunked Brian McCann to start the fifth inning before Teixeira singled. The Astros intentionally walked Castro with one out to load the bases before McCann scored on a sacrifice fly by Headley. The first triple of the season for Hicks came next to score two more and chase Fister.
Astros: Houston 3B Luis Valbuena left Tuesday's game in the second inning with a strained right hamstring. Valbuena pulled up after hitting a grounder and fell face down on to the dirt halfway between home plate and first base. Trainers looked at him for a minute before he was helped to his feet and limped off the field.
A DIFFERENT PATH?
NBA Hall of Famer David Robinson, who spent his entire 14-year career with the San Antonio Spurs, attended the game with some students he provided scholarships for. He lamented a baseball career that was cut short while watching batting practice.
"It was my favorite sport up until my senior year of high school. I played first base, pitched some," he said. "(But) all through high school I grew like three inches a year so it killed my baseball career. Which now being out here I'm really sad about that, but basketball turned out OK."
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka (7-2, 3.00) will start in the series finale on Wednesday. Tanaka, who leads the majors with a 1.50 ERA on the road this season, enters the game with an 11-inning scoreless streak.
Astros: Lance McCullers (5-4, 3.33) is scheduled to start for Houston on Wednesday. McCullers allowed one run and struck out 10 in a season-high eight-plus innings in a win over the Angels in his previous start.
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