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Sabathia, Price square off in Tampa

(SportsNetwork.com) - CC Sabathia tries to lead the New York Yankees to their fifth straight win on Thursday when they open a four-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.

Sabathia has not been impressive here in the early going, posting a 1-2 mark to go along with a 6.63 ERA in three starts. He's also allowed five home runs in those starts.

The big left-hander has traditionally been a slow starter, but he is also coming off a year that saw him pitch to a career-worst 4.78 ERA.

"I just haven't been able to put a whole game together," Sabathia said. "I'm pitching well at times, but I need to be able to stay even-keeled and make pitches in big situations."

Sabathia's latest setback came on Friday versus Boston, as he surrendered four runs and six hits in seven innings. He has yet to give up less than four runs in any start this season.

Things may not get any easier for Sabathia on Thursday, as he is just 11-13 lifetime against the Rays with a 3.78 ERA in 34 starts. In fact, he is 1-6 with a 6.11 ERA in his last eight starts against the Rays, and 0-5 with a 4.50 ERA in his past eight at Tropicana Field.

To make matters worse for Sabathia he will be opposed by lefty David Price, who is 2-0 with a 2.91 ERA. Price was at his best on Friday in Cincinnati, as he allowed just a run and four hits and struck out 10 over 8 1/3 innings.

Price is 9-4 lifetime against the Yankees with a 3.65 ERA in 21 games (20 starts).

This is also the 10th time the former American League Cy Young Award winners will be squaring off. Price has gotten the better of the matchup with the Rays, winning eight of those contests with him posting a 6-1 mark and a 2.68 ERA.

Price will be trying to help the Rays get back on track after they were blanked by Baltimore on Wednesday, 3-0. Tampa has lost three in a row and return home after going 3-5 on an eight-game road trip.

Tampa has now managed three runs or fewer in eight of its last nine games.

"We're going to continue to pitch well and the balls are going to start finding some holes or rest comfortably on the outfield grass without being caught," said Rays manager Joe Maddon. "We've just got to keep fighting through it."

New York, meanwhile, got two tremendous pitching performances on Wednesday, as it swept a doubleheader from the Chicago Cubs, taking the first game, 3-0, then posting a 2-0 win in the second.

Masahiro Tanaka twirled eight scoreless innings to get the win in game one, while Michael Pineda kept the Cubs' bats at bay in the nightcap with six scoreless frames.

"It just goes to show you how well our pitchers threw," manager Joe Girardi said. "When you shut out a team for 18 innings you're doing things right."

The Yankees have won four in a row and have surrendered 11 runs while winning five of six.

Tampa was 12-7 against the Yanks last season, shutting them out four times.

04/17 10:18:55 ET

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