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OAK@NYY: Sabathia has a solid outing against the A's

Maybe he loves the offensive aspect of being an American League pitcher in a National League park. Maybe it's a return to the NL, where he dominated in a quick stint with the Brewers in 2008. Or, maybe, it's just that he's always been solid in the month of May, when Interleague games are often played.

Whatever the reason, CC Sabathia has shined against NL opponents since signing with the Yankees. In 16 starts since 2009, the southpaw has posted a 2.83 ERA, and his 11 Interleague victories are tied with Justin Verlander for the most in the Majors during that time.

Sabathia faces the Rockies on Thursday afternoon in the rubber match of a three-game set at Coors Field. Both clubs have the chance to be in first place by day's end, as each is tied atop the loss column but trails in victories.

Opposite Sabathia will be fellow left-hander Jeff Francis, who has struggled this season to the tune of a 7.27 ERA. He has shied away from a changeup that has been ineffective recently, using instead a fastball-curveball-sinker mix.

Francis is coming off a rough outing against Tampa Bay his last time out. He gave up four runs in five innings and couldn't hold an early 3-0 lead.

"I felt like if I'd made some better pitches, we could have been ahead and won this game," Francis said after the start. "I missed with a couple of pitches, and it cost me some runs."

With their 3-2 victory on Wednesday night, the Yankees snapped a five-game losing streak at Coors Field. They also avoided what would have been their first three-game losing skid of the season. Kansas City and Texas are the only other clubs to have made it this far into the season without dropping three straight.

Now, it's a winning streak the Bombers are searching for as Sabathia takes the hill for the first time since giving up two earned runs in six innings against Oakland last Friday.

He'll also enter the batter's box for the first time this season, where he has posted a very respectable .238 average and has hit three homers.

Yankees: Nunez doubtful
• It's likely Yankees shortstop Eduardo Nunez will be out of the starting lineup yet again on Thursday with tightness in his left rib cage.

Nunez exited Sunday's game in the fifth inning and did not swing a bat on Wednesday. He did, however, throw lightly and go through some footwork.

"He went out and tried to do some stuff, and it's still not quite where it needs to be," manager Joe Girardi said.

Rockies: Rutledge raking
• After batting just .213 in April, Rockies second baseman Josh Rutledge has been on a tear thus far in May, hitting .400.

"One thing about Rut is he brings athleticism to the lineup, he runs really well, and he covers some ground at second base," Colorado manager Walt Weiss said. "It's not just the bat. He brings other things to the team every day that he's in the lineup."

On the season, Rutledge is hitting .252 with four homers.

Worth noting
• Only one Rockies hitter has faced Sabathia more than 15 times -- outfielder Michael Cuddyer. In 61 at-bats, Cuddyer is hitting .230 with a pair of homers.

• Hitters on the current Yankees roster have mustered a combined .235 average against Francis. Only Ichiro Suzuki, 4-for-6 with a homer, is hitting above .250 (minimum five at-bats).

• Legendary Yankees closer Mariano Rivera made his Coors Field debut in tossing a scoreless ninth on Wednesday. Set to retire at season's end, Rivera will get his last chance to pitch in Denver on Thursday (barring a World Series rematch, of course).

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