NEW YORK -- The glove went up over CC Sabathia's mouth, and whatever words he spat into that softened leather, they were clearly not fit for public consumption. There was a good reason for that anger: One bad inning had just unraveled all of the hurler's good work on Friday night.
It was a throwback game of sorts for Sabathia, even before he watched former teammate Grady Sizemore pounce on a hanging slider and send it deep into the night. Like he occasionally did as teammates a half-decade ago, Sabathia lost his cool and then lost the game, too.
Sabathia surrendered a game-tying solo home run to Jonny Gomes and a game-changing three-run shot to Sizemore in a four-run sixth inning as the Yankees were defeated by the Red Sox, 4-2, at Yankee Stadium.
"It was just frustration," Sabathia said. "Anytime you see me yelling, it's frustration on my part. I was just mad, and that's something that as I've gotten older, I've been able to control my emotions. I let them get the best of me tonight."
The first five innings went swimmingly for Sabathia, who struck out nine and walked two, but for the second straight start, he was unable to avoid a big sixth inning. This time, the costly frame featured a rare infield hit for David Ortiz, which rattled the lefty's concentration.
Sabathia didn't flinch when Gomes turned on an 89-mph fastball for a homer leading off the inning, but Ortiz's check-swing dribbler to the left side of the infield prompted Sabathia to go on tilt. He ran the count to 3-0 on Mike Napoli, who then singled.
"It's just something where usually I'm able to stay even-keeled and not let that frustrate me," Sabathia said. "Next thing I know, it's 3-0 on Napoli before I even calmed down."
That brought up Sizemore, Sabathia's old teammate from their days with the Indians, and the Yanks wanted Sizemore to roll into an inning-ending double play. It didn't happen, as Sizemore dug for the slider and pounded it for his second homer of the year.
"I look at it as one pitch; the slider he left up to Sizemore was the real difference in the game," manager Joe Girardi said. "Besides that, I thought he had really good command and threw the ball well."
With the defeat, Sabathia fell to 8-8 with a 5.03 ERA in 21 starts against the Red Sox since joining the Yankees. Sabathia said that his stuff feels "light years" ahead of where he was last season, but he still has work to do.
"I think he's getting closer," catcher Francisco Cervelli said. "He's got a heavy fastball. Everybody see 90, 90, 90 [mph] all the time, but his fastball is so good, it's so heavy. And when he's able to throw inside on the hitter's hands, he's going to have a good night."
The Yankees managed two runs in 6 2/3 innings against Jon Lester, who improved to 12-5 in 27 career starts against New York. Alfonso Soriano hit his second homer of the year, a solo shot in the second inning, before Lester settled into a groove.
"I felt all right. I had some grinds in there throughout the game," said Lester, who walked two and struck out six in a 113-pitch outing. "That's the Yankees. They're going to grind away at you and make you throw a bunch of pitches."
New York finally threatened again in the seventh, as Ichiro Suzuki laced a two-out single and Brian Roberts walked. Kelly Johnson connected for an RBI single, marking his first hit in 15 career at-bats against Lester, and a Yankee Stadium crowd that had been distracting itself with the Wave suddenly returned to the game.
"It did feel like that something might have turned," Johnson said. "We turned over the lineup, the go-ahead run at the plate, and it looked good."
The Yanks' hopes were squashed, however, as Junichi Tazawa came in and retired Derek Jeter on a flyout to strand two men. With closer Koji Uehara unavailable to right shoulder soreness, Edward Mujica pitched a perfect ninth to record his first save of the year.
"They deserve some credit there," Johnson said. "They did pitch really well. Lester pitched great; he's tough, one of the toughest in the game."
Cesar Cabral, Adam Warren and Dellin Betances wrapped up the pitching for New York. Despite the loss hanging next to Sabathia's name, the Yankees preferred to focus on the positives that their ace showed on Friday.
Sabathia may need a refresher course in keeping his emotions in check, but the Yanks will sign up for those first five innings of one-hit ball every fifth day. They just need to see him piece together a complete outing.
"He's throwing the ball more consistently than he did last year," Girardi said. "He just can't get caught up in some of the things that happen in the game. A check-swing really started that inning. You've got to get beyond that and make your own breaks."