NEW YORK (AP) - CC Sabathia was in complete command, seeming to give the New York Yankees exactly what they needed at a time when they're struggling to score.
Then suddenly, the game got away from him.
The Cincinnati Reds rallied against the Yankees' ace in the seventh inning, turning a pair of solo home runs and three straight walks into a 5-2 victory Sunday that sent New York to its fifth loss in six games.
``I felt like I let the team down. These guys are scratching and clawing and it's a great offense, but it's tough when you surrender the lead,' Sabathia said.
Cincinnati had been blanked on two singles and trailed 2-0 before Ryan Ludwick homered on Sabathia's first pitch of the seventh. An out later, Ryan Hanigan tied it when he crushed an 0-2 pitch deep to left-center for his first homer of the season.
Zack Cozart followed with a one-hop single off Sabathia (5-2). And with two outs, the big lefty suddenly lost the plate, walking Drew Stubbs, Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips on a full count to force home the go-ahead run.
That bout of wildness marked only the third time in Sabathia's 12-season career that he had walked three batters in a row, STATS LLC said.
``It's frustrating not being able to make a pitch, three walks in a row. Part of it is not making pitches, overthrowing, walking a guy when you have two strikes when it's probably the time to back off, collect myself and make a good pitch,' he said.
It was Bat Day at the ballpark, plus New York let kids of season-ticket holders run the bases after the game, a rare promotion at Yankee Stadium.
The real Yankees didn't make it home too often against Johnny Cueto and the Cincinnati relievers. New York has scored only 15 runs during its skid.
Cueto (5-1) gave up a two-run homer to Raul Ibanez in the sixth. The Yankees had plenty of traffic against him, but didn't do more damage.
Reds manager Dusty Baker employed Sean Marshall and Logan Ondrusek to get through the eighth. The Reds held on when Alex Rodriguez's bid for a go-ahead, two-run homer seemed to get held up and was caught on the warning track.
``There were some balls that were hit pretty good that were caught,' Ibanez said. ``Alex hit that ball really good right into the wind. I thought it was gone. We all thought it was gone.'
Aroldis Chapman closed it out as Cincinnati took two of three at Yankee Stadium, right after splitting a pair at Citi Field against the Mets.
Chapman, the closer for at least a day, worked a hitless ninth for his first save of the season and the second of his major league career. The hard-throwing lefty has not allowed an earned run in 22 1-3 innings this season, striking out 39.
Ludwick hit a two-out, two-run double off the glove of diving left fielder Dewayne Wise in the ninth. Ludwick had missed the past two games with a bruised left elbow after being plunked by Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.
Ibanez, who had faced Cueto more than any other Yankees hitter from his days in the NL, broke open a scoreless game by pulling a two-run homer into the second deck. Ibanez connected for his ninth home run on an afternoon when Yankees manager Joe Girardi gave him a ``half day,' moving him from the outfield to the DH slot.
New York hitters had been in a 5-for-57 rut with runners in scoring position when Ibanez homered one out after Robinson Cano's leadoff double.
Sabathia didn't allow a hit until Todd Frazier grounded a single in the fifth.
Cueto gave up one single in each of the first five innings. Yet only once did the Yankees get a runner past first base in that span - after a pair of four-pitch walks, Rodriguez flied out on the first pitch to end the third.
``The bottom line is we still didn't score a lot of runs. That seems to be what we're struggling with right now,' Girardi said.
NOTES: Yankees SS Derek Jeter was hit on the wrist by Jay Bruce's hard grounder in the ninth. Girardi said Jeter will be OK for Monday night's game vs. Kansas City. ... Sabathia walked five, his most since April 2010. ... Yankees 1B Mark Teixeira didn't start in the series as he tries to shake his persistent cough. He pinch hit in the ninth and reached on an error. Girardi said he hopes Teixeira can play Monday night. ... Yankees OF Brett Gardner (strained right elbow) isn't expected to pick up a bat until Thursday. ... Yankees RHP Hiroki Kuroda (3-5) starts at home Monday night vs. Royals RHP Felipe Paulino (1-1).
The Associated Press News Service
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