Sabathia continues to roll
It’s also not too often a pitcher has a string of success like CC Sabathia.
Sabathia pitched a five-hitter to remain unbeaten with the Brewers and Milwaukee beat the Washington Nationals 5-0 on Friday night.
“I’m like his mini-me. When he’s out there, I just get excited,” the burly Brewers first baseman said of the 290-pound Brewers ace. “Since he’s come over here, he’s been awesome. You get a pitcher like that, you want to give him everything you’ve got, so you can make sure he gets the win. He’s doing his part.”
It was the ninth straight win for Sabathia, who has not lost in 12 starts since June 5. In seven starts with the Brewers since being acquired from the Cleveland Indians on July 7, he is 6-0 with a 1.57 ERA.
Mike Cameron and J.J. Hardy homered for the Brewers, who moved two games ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals in the wild-card race and remained five games behind the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central.
The Cubs beat the Cardinals 3-2 in 11 innings Friday.
The Nationals — tied for the worst record in the majors with the San Diego Padres coming in — had won a season-best six-of-seven games and swept the Colorado Rockies in a doubleheader Thursday, but they were no match for Sabathia, who walked one and did not allow a runner past second base.
“I knew he was good,” Brewers manager Ned Yost said. “I don’t sit there in my office and dream he’s going to go 7-0 or 6-0, whatever. He’s just been almost unhittable, or unscorable, since he’s been here.”
It was Sabathia’s fourth shutout this season and ninth in his career. He has two shutouts and four complete games with Milwaukee, and in 57 innings for the Brewers has given up 40 hits and 12 walks.
The crowds at Miller Park have taken notice. Sabathia received a standing ovation as he went to the mound in the ninth, with the Foo Fighters song “My Hero” playing in the background.
However, Sabathia almost lost the shutout in the ninth, as he threw wide of first on Cristian Guzman’s grounder back to the mound. Hardy then failed to complete a double play ball off the bat of Ryan Zimmerman, throwing the ball into the camera well. But Austin Kearns lined out to Hardy, and Lastings Milledge grounded out to Hardy to end the game.
Sabathia threw 77 of his 103 pitches for strikes.
“I have just been trying to pound the zone,” he said. “That’s usually what I try to do, go out and throw strikes. They were swinging early, and that helped me out.”
Collin Balester (2-4) took the loss for Washington, giving up five hits and three earned runs in five innings. His two wild pitches and a throwing error also led to runs for Milwaukee.
“The first couple innings, I was trying to do too much, and you can’t pitch that way,” Balester sad.
In the first, Rickie Weeks walked, went to second on a wild pitch and advanced to third after narrowly avoiding a tag — and a double play — on a ground ball. Fielder singled to drive in Weeks and extend his hitting streak to 11 games.
Mike Cameron hit a solo home run in the second, his 18th and third in his last six games, to make it 2-0.
Balester’s wildness cost him again in the third. Hardy and Ryan Braun singled to start the inning and, after Fielder struck out, advanced as Balester threw the ball into center field on a pickoff attempt. Two pitches later, Balester threw a curveball well short of home plate for a wild pitch, scoring Hardy. Braun scored on a sacrifice fly by Corey Hart.
Hardy homered in the seventh, his 16th — not that Sabathia needed it.
“If there’s a guy that’s got every pitching going like that, there’s really not anything you can do as a hitter,” Zimmerman said. “You just have to pick a pitch and hope he makes a mistake.”
Said Brewers catcher Jason Kendall: “It’s a lot easier to catch CC than it is to hit against him.”
The Brewers were returning home after a 4-2 road trip to Atlanta and Cincinnati. The trip followed a disastrous 1-6 homestand that included a four-game sweep by the Cubs.
Sabathia had a no decision in the series opener against the Cubs — and realizes he will lose again.
“It’s part of the game,” Sabathia said. “It’s going to happen eventually.”
Notes:RHP Garrett Mock will make his third start this season — and third of his career — on Monday, replacing LHP Odallis Perez. The Nationals recalled Mock from Triple-A Columbus on Thursday. Perez will pitch Tuesday. ... With the 4-2 road trip, the Brewers are 32-28 on the road, matching their road victory total from all of last season. ... Brewers LF Ryan Braun has 64 home runs in his first two seasons, the sixth-most for any player in his first two seasons all-time. Joe DiMaggio tops the list with his 75 home runs in 1936-37.