NEW YORK -- CC Sabathia mouthed a few choice words as he came off the mound with two on and one out in the eighth inning Wednesday.
His New York Yankees led the Chicago White Sox 6-1 at the time. Sabathia was not mad at his outing but was upset that he left a mess for his teammates to clean up after a mostly encouraging performance.
Sabathia watched David Robertson nearly cough up the lead before Mariano Rivera cleaned things up by getting the final four outs of New York's 6-5 victory at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees swept the three-game series.
"I always hate to leave in the middle of an inning, especially with runners on base and put D-Rob in a tough situation," Sabathia said. "It's just frustrating on my part.
"I really didn't know how many pitches I had. At this point, I'm not at liberty to argue with (manager Joe Girardi) with the way I pitched this year."
Sabathia allowed three runs and five hits in 7 1/3 innings while winning for the fourth time in five starts. He improved to 19-4 lifetime against the White Sox, displaying better stuff than he had in some of his previous wins.
"I feel good about the game," Sabathia said. "Being able to battle back and kind of battle through that game (is good)."
Sabathia exited to a standing ovation from the crowd of 36,082 after walking four, striking out four and throwing 66 of 111 pitches for strikes.
"I thought he was pretty good tonight," New York manager Joe Girardi said. "I don't think too many pitches cut tonight. I thought he gave us distance tonight. He did a really good job. He threw a lot of pitches the first two innings, but to get into the eighth inning I thought was important, and he did the job."
All of that good work nearly went to waste due to some rare ineffectiveness by Robertson.
Robertson gave up a run-scoring single to Avisail Garcia, a two-run single to Josh Phegley and an RBI single to Marcus Semien, who was making his major league debut. The rally forced Girardi to use Rivera for a four-out save.
"It was a tough inning," Robertson said. "I couldn't make anything work. It seemed like anything I threw either got put in play, found a hole or was hit hard. It was tough."
Girardi said, "We brought in guys that have done the job all year, and we eventually got it done, but it probably got closer than all of us would have liked."
Rivera cleaned up the eighth by striking out Chicago leadoff hitter Alejando De Aza on a close 3-2 pitch that hit the outside corner. He neatly secured his 41st save when Paul Konerko lined out to Alex Rodriguez at third base.
Girardi's bullpen usage was the second time in as many Sabathia starts he extended his key relievers. After pulling Sabathia at 86 pitches Friday against the Baltimore Orioles, he used Robertson for four outs and said that is something that could happen more often.
"We need to do whatever it takes," Rivera said. "Two outs, three outs, whatever it takes."
Robinson Cano hit his 26th home run and added an RBI single for the Yankees, who were swept in Chicago last month. Since that sweep, the Yankees are 18-8 as they head into a big four-game series with the Boston Red Sox.
"It's extremely important," Girardi said of the upcoming series. "It's a tough series. They're playing well. They're swinging the bats well, and they've been a team that we've been chasing all year, so obviously it's important to get to where we really want."
The Yankees are eight games behind Boston.
Chicago starter Erik Johnson (0-1) made his debut and allowed five runs (three earned) and seven hits in six innings. Regarded as the team's best pitching prospect, Johnson also committed a costly throwing error that aided New York's four-run fourth.
"It was a great feeling to be out there," Johnson said. "I think I could have just filled up the strike zone a bit better, worked ahead, especially with all my pitches. That was the main thing."
The White Sox dropped their fifth straight game and had three players make their major league debuts, with reliever Daniel Webb joining Johnson and Semien.
"That's the position that we're in," Chicago manager Robin Ventura said.
Semien finished 2-for-4. Webb allowed one run in one inning.
NOTES: New York RHP Ivan Nova was named AL Pitcher of the Month for August. He will open the four-game series against the Red Sox on Thursday. ... Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez batted sixth for the second time this season, but that was because Girardi wanted to split up his team's left-handed bats. Rodriguez went 1-for-3 with a walk. ... According to the Elias Sports Bureau, 1995 was the last time the White Sox had at least three pitchers make their major league debuts as starters before Johnson joined RHP Andre Rienzo and LHP Charlie Leesman this year. In the 144-game, strike-shortened 1995 season, Luis Andujar, James Baldwin, Mike Bertotti, Brian Keyser and Mike Sirotka all made their major league debuts.