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Must C Collision: Stewart hangs on to tag Headley

SAN DIEGO -- As CC Sabathia attempts to navigate what is now officially the worst stretch of his career, he has routinely acknowledged that his outings have been "embarrassing" and that he needs to start helping the Yankees win games.

That has proven to be easier said than done for the veteran left-hander, who endured another unimpressive outing on Friday night. Sabathia allowed five runs in 5 2/3 innings as the Padres defeated the Yankees, 7-2, in the series opener at Petco Park.

"I feel like it has to turn, it's going to turn, but it's just not at that point yet," Sabathia said. "But I'll keep working, keep working in the bullpen, and this thing will turn around for me."

Sabathia has now allowed five or more runs for the fourth straight game, the first time in his career that he has done so. Over that span of three losses and a no-decision, opponents have battered Sabathia for a 10.07 ERA and a .398 batting average.

"You've got to battle. Things aren't easy," Yankees captain Derek Jeter said. "We need to find ways to get the job done. We didn't do it tonight, but we come right back tomorrow and hopefully have a better result. You have no choice."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi pointed to the Padres' array of collected ground-ball hits, as well as a possible first-inning third strike that didn't make home-plate umpire Mike DiMuro flinch, as game-changers in this latest outing.

But even Girardi had to acknowledge that if the Yankees are to make a run for October, they need Sabathia to pitch more like an ace -- a more troubling situation, perhaps, because Sabathia insists that he is healthy and feels fine mechanically.

"It obviously makes it more difficult, that's the bottom line," Girardi said. "We need him to be CC if we're going to make a run."

Asked if he is worried about not being able to escape this troubled stretch, Sabathia replied, "Of course. Who wouldn't? But I'm going to keep going, keep battling and try to help this team."

Backing starting pitcher Andrew Cashner, the Padres got two quick runs in the first inning, a frame extended -- the Yankees thought -- by a low 2-2 pitch to Yonder Alonso that DiMuro ruled a ball.

Sabathia walked Alonso to force home San Diego's first run, and while catcher Chris Stewart said he thought it was a strike, Sabathia refused to use it as an excuse.

"The 2-2 pitch was pretty good," Sabathia said. "I didn't see it [on replay], but that doesn't make a difference. I walked him on the next pitch. I can't do that. I can't walk in a run and expect to win games."

Jedd Gyorko drove home another run with a groundout that clipped Sabathia's body before Robinson Cano retrieved it. Logan Forsythe cleared the left-field fence with a fourth-inning solo blast, the career-high 24th home run Sabathia has allowed this season.

"It's tough," Stewart said. "He's probably putting more pressure on himself. He knows he is the guy that this team relies on and he knows he can be a lot better than what he's showing out there. It's just tough to see him have to go through it."

Two batters later, Sabathia failed to cover first base on Cashner's one-hop infield hit, a lapse that led to a another run as Everth Cabrera tripled him home.

"I just didn't get over," Sabathia said. "I can't make any excuses. It's the pitcher, so I had to know he's going to the right side, but I just didn't get over there."

Chris Denorfia chased Sabathia with a sixth-inning RBI single, the 11th hit permitted by Sabathia, tying his season high. Girardi said that he is confident Sabathia has been telling the truth about his good health.

"If he wasn't healthy, I don't think you would see him get up to 93 [mph]," Girardi said. "He wouldn't be able to take the ball every fifth day, he wouldn't be able to throw his sides and he'd be getting more treatment. None of that is happening."

The output against Sabathia was enough support for Cashner, who limited the Yankees to two runs and seven hits over seven innings, walking none and striking out two.

The Yankees' only scoring came in the second inning as Eduardo Nunez doubled home Ichiro Suzuki and Sabathia contributed a run-scoring groundout.

"I thought I pitched OK tonight," Cashner said. "I thought our defense played really well behind me and made some plays, got out of some tough spots. But I think there's a lot of room for improvement."

Curtis Granderson, playing just his ninth game of the season, returned to the lineup and went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.

Joba Chamberlain served up a seventh-inning homer to Gyorko, pitching in a mop-up role, and Will Venable took Adam Warren deep in the eighth to extend the Padres' lead.

"The way I look at it, I think you have to win most of the series," Girardi said. "By losing the first game, you put yourself in a tough spot. I think you need to take advantage of situations."

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