NEW YORK -- CC Sabathia braced for a ninth-inning fight that he probably wouldn't win as Joe Girardi's foot hit the top dugout step on Friday, expecting that the Yankees' manager was coming out to ask for the baseball.
But Girardi just wanted a chat with his ace; like most of Yankee Stadium, he was hoping to see Sabathia finish one of his most dominant starts of the year. The left-hander happily replied by putting the final touches on a 6-3 complete-game victory over the Seattle Mariners.
"When you hear bullpen guys saying, 'Thank you for the day off,' that feels pretty good," said Sabathia, who went the distance for the second time this year. "Hopefully I can keep doing that."
Sabathia limited the Mariners' offense to a season-low three hits in a 10-strikeout performance, and entering the eighth inning, Seattle had managed only Casper Wells' fourth-inning homer to show for a string of 23 batters faced.
Dustin Ackley slugged a long two-run homer in the ninth to put three runs on Sabathia's final line, but that wasn't enough to spoil the hurler's 35th career complete game, an efficient 103-pitch effort. Sabathia has defeated the Mariners in eight straight starts, dating back to Aug. 13, 2009.
"CC's a winner," Girardi said. "Very seldom am I ever going to worry about CC. I thought he pitched a heck of a game tonight. He went right after guys, like he does. His stuff was really effective."
Sabathia bounced back from a rough outing against the Red Sox by teaming with catcher Russell Martin, who was working with the Yankees' ace for the first time since April 11.
Having been paired with Chris Stewart for each of his previous 10 victories this year, Sabathia seemed to click with Martin quickly. Martin allowed himself a sigh of relief, knowing the door is now open for the two to work together more regularly.
"I wanted to make sure that he had a good start today," Martin said. "If he didn't, I know there'd be stories about that, so I'm glad we put that behind us. Really, he just executed pitches. I put fingers down, and whatever I put down, they were nasty pitches. He just makes me look good."
Sabathia said that he threw a "horrible bullpen" and almost told pitching coach Larry Rothschild that the Yankees should get a reliever ready, proving that pregame warmups count for very little -- especially against a young, aggressive lineup like Seattle's.
"There weren't many opportunities to be had," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "CC was outstanding, as good as I've seen him. He had everything working. I think he beats anybody tonight with what he was throwing."
The Yankees got to Mariners starter Kevin Millwood for four runs in six innings before adding on later. Leading off for just the fourth time this season, Curtis Granderson got a different-looking offense started with a two-run single in the third inning.
Eric Chavez slugged a two-run homer in the sixth, his 10th, and might have received some help from a fan in the front row in right field whose glove appeared to touch either the ball or right fielder Eric Thames' glove.
Thames didn't dispute the ruling of a home run, which was called quickly by first-base umpire Larry Vanover. Chavez said that he had joked with Mark Teixeira earlier in the day that he was looking for an easy homer, and he got one.
"When I hit that ball, I thought I got it a little bit better," Chavez said. "Tex and I were laughing about it today. I haven't had a cheap Yankee Stadium home run yet, so I ran in the dugout and Tex said, 'All you've got to do is ask for it.' I thought he was going to catch it."
Chavez left the game in the ninth with a sore right ankle, but the Yankees don't believe the injury to be serious. They also welcomed back Teixeira, who missed two games with a sore left wrist and went 1-for-4.
"I didn't really expect this to be too big of an issue, just a little soreness you have to take care of," Teixeira said.
The Yankees added two runs in the seventh. Robinson Cano and Raul Ibanez ripped run-scoring singles off Oliver Perez, with both runs charged to Carter Capps, who made his Major League debut. Ichiro Suzuki went 1-for-4 and has hit safely in all 10 games as a Yankee.
The support was sufficient for Sabathia, who set down the first 10 batters he faced before Wells hit his seventh homer of the year, a solo shot to left-center field, and then went back into cruise mode.
"You always want a game like this, just to go out and throw the ball well and have everything working," Sabathia said. "It felt good, and hopefully I can just keep it going. Every time you go out, you feel like you're going to go out and try to dominate somebody. Today was just the day."
Girardi said repeatedly that he wanted to get Sabathia and Martin back together, forecasting their eventual pairing in the playoffs. Perhaps it was all filler. On a night like this, Sabathia could've had just about anyone behind the plate.
"I don't think it really matters," Martin said. "If he's executing pitches, it's going to be a tough ballgame for them."