(Sports Network) - The New York Yankees are back in familiar territory atop the American League East standings and own baseball's best record. They will try to maintain both tonight in the opener of a three-game interleague series against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field.
While the Tampa Bay Rays struggled with the Florida Marlins this weekend, the Yankees took two of three meetings against the crosstown rival Mets in the Bronx and posted a 4-0 victory in Sunday's series finale. Mark Teixeira's grand slam in the third inning was all ace CC Sabathia needed to push his record to 8-3 this season. The big lefty fired eight scoreless innings and limited the Mets to four hits with six strikeouts and two walks.
"I felt pretty good out there. I wasn't thinking 'If you get me a run, the game's over' or anything like that," Sabathia said after winning his fourth straight start. "I felt like once we had the lead I was confident enough to keep pounding away, hitting the strike zone."
Derek Jeter shook off a heel injury to record two hits and Jorge Posada ended 2-for-4 with a double for the Yankees, who are one game ahead of both Tampa Bay and Boston in the AL East Division. New York has won two straight after a three-game slide and nine of its last 13 contests. It will also visit former manager Joe Torre and the Los Angeles Dodgers on this interleague trek.
Yankees All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano went 0-for-3 on Sunday, but still leads the major leagues with a .367 batting average. He entered yesterday's game hitting .440 with eight doubles, five homers and 21 runs batted in since May 26.
A.J. Burnett could use some of that firepower when he takes the mound in the desert tonight. Burnett has lost three straight starts and is only 2-5 with a 6.36 earned run average in his last eight appearances. He previously pitched in last Wednesday's 6-3 loss to Philadelphia and gave up all six runs on six hits and four walks over a season-low 3 1/3 innings.
Burnett, who has given up at least four runs in each of his last three trips to the hill, is 3-3 in eight road starts this season. The righty will make his sixth career start against the Diamondbacks and is 3-2 with a 3.67 ERA over the first five encounters.
Arizona probably can't wait for interleague play to be over as it has lost five of the last six contests against the American League. After losing all three meetings in Boston, the D'Backs dropped two of three games in Detroit over the weekend.
In a 3-1 setback on Sunday, Ian Kennedy was saddled with the loss for permitting all three runs in the seventh inning and six hits, including two homers, over 6 2/3 frames.
"This was very, very, very frustrating to say the least," Kennedy said on the team's website.
Chris Young drove in the lone run for Arizona, which is last in the National League West standings at 13 1/2 games off the lead. Rusty Ryal had two of the four hits for the D'Backs.
Rodrigo Lopez has the pleasure of welcoming the Yankees to the Valley of the Sun and will make his 15th start of the season Monday. Lopez has lost three straight starts and is winless in his last four decisions. He is just 2-6 with a 4.70 ERA this season and was pummeled at Boston the last time out on Wednesday, giving up six runs and 10 hits in seven innings.
Lopez, who has lasted at least seven innings in four straight outings, picked up his last win on May 15 at Atlanta. He is 1-3 in seven home starts in 2010 and has had plenty of experience against the Bronx Bombers. In 24 career matchups (20 starts) with New York, the right-hander is 8-8 with a 5.90 ERA.
The Yankees are 7-2 all-time in regular season games with Arizona and swept a three-game series in the Bronx the last time these two clubs squared off in 2007. The Yankees outscored the D'Backs, 18-4, in those games. Arizona, of course, beat New York in seven games to win the 2001 World Series.
New York is 140-100 in interleague play, while the D'Backs are 87-109.