MIKE FITZPATRICK, AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Corey Kluber put Cleveland’s rotation back on track, Andrew Miller earned a save against the team that traded him last weekend and the Indians beat the New York Yankees 5-2 on Saturday.
Mike Napoli, Jason Kipnis and Rajai Davis each homered to help the AL Central leaders recover from an early two-run deficit.
Kluber (11-8) struck out eight in eight innings of five-hit ball, beating CC Sabathia (6-9) in a matchup of pitchers who won the AL Cy Young Award with Cleveland.
Miller closed with a one-hit ninth for his first save with Cleveland. The lanky left-hander, acquired Sunday in a blockbuster trade, entered to a warm ovation at Yankee Stadium and fanned two batters following a leadoff single.
Miller’s first nine saves this year came with the Yankees.
With the Indians in dire need of a solid outing after five straight rocky starts, Kluber wobbled early on a muggy, soupy afternoon with a game-time temperature of 84 degrees.
Yankees rookie Gary Sanchez lined an RBI double to left-center with two outs in the second and scored on a wild pitch that glanced off the mitt of catcher Roberto Perez.
Kluber settled in from there, though, and struck out the middle third of New York’s lineup in the fourth. The Yankees also ran themselves out of two chances in the middle innings — including an embarrassing blunder by Brett Gardner, who went tearing around second base on Jacoby Ellsbury’s fly to medium right field and was easily doubled off first.
Kluber threw 100 pitches and walked only one, improving to 3-0 in his last five starts.
Cleveland’s talented rotation, so effective all season as the Indians streaked into first place, came in 0-4 with a 15.58 ERA this month — and the team was outscored 50-32 overall in losing four of its previous five games.
Kipnis connected leading off the fourth for Cleveland’s first hit, his fourth homer against the Yankees this year. Davis delivered a two-out RBI single in the fifth.
Napoli broke the tie with an opposite-field solo shot off Sabathia in the sixth over the auxiliary scoreboard in right-center. It was Napoli’s team-leading 28th homer and sixth in the past eight games. He connected in five straight through Wednesday.
Davis went deep against Anthony Swarzak in the seventh, and Kipnis drove in Davis with a ninth-inning single off Nick Goody.
Sabathia was charged with three runs in 5 2/3 innings, dropping to 1-5 in his last nine starts.
Indians: LF Brandon Guyer, acquired Monday from Tampa Bay, made his second start for Cleveland and was hit by a pitch on the left thigh. Guyer has been plunked 24 times this season, most in the majors. … RHP Joe Colon (shoulder) was set to begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A.
Yankees: 3B Chase Headley was rested in favor of rookie Ronald Torreyes, who started a pair of inning-ending double plays in the first four innings. Headley lined out as a pinch-hitter for Torreyes in the eighth.
Sanchez, impressive since he was called up from the minors Wednesday, made his second straight start behind the plate and showed off his strong arm again when he pounced on a pitch in the dirt and threw out Guyer at second trying to advance. “As I’ve said, he’s here to play,” manager Joe Girardi said before the game. “We’re treating him just like any other catcher.”
Girardi said he told incumbent catcher Brian McCann he should take grounders at first base to stay prepared and give the Yankees options going forward. “He’s done it before and he’s pretty comfortable over there,” the manager said, adding that McCann will probably be the DH all weekend and then catch some next week in Boston.
Both teams brought up a new reliever before the game. Cleveland recalled TJ House from Triple-A Columbus and optioned fellow lefty Shawn Morimando to its top farm club. House, who made four appearances for the Indians in July, had a 1.98 ERA over his last 14 outings with the Clippers. New York called up LHP Chasen Shreve from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and sent down RHP Johnny Barbato.
Indians RHP Carlos Carrasco (7-5, 3.12 ERA) starts the series finale Sunday against RHP Masahiro Tanaka (7-4, 3.46). Carrasco gave up nine hits and a career-high eight runs in 3 2/3 innings Tuesday against Minnesota but is 5-2 with a 1.72 ERA on the road this year. Tanaka, hit hard Tuesday by the Mets, is 0-2 with a 5.71 ERA in three career starts against Cleveland.
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