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NEW YORK (AP) — Luis Severino is pitching like an ace for the New York Yankees, a year after his severe sophomore slump.
Severino dominated reeling Cincinnati for seven innings, Didi Gregorius and Todd Frazier homered and the Yankees beat the Reds 9-5 on Wednesday for a two-game sweep.
New York has won consecutive series after going 0-8-2 in series after sweeping Baltimore from June 9-11. The Yankees, one game behind AL East-leading Boston, have stabilized by winning eight of 12 following a 7-19 slide.
"Every good team needs that guy that goes out there every fifth day and gives us a chance to win, and he's been that guy for us," CC Sabathia said.
Severino (7-4) did not allow a runner past second base until the seventh, when he allowed a pair of unearned runs after Gregorius misplayed Scott Schebler's leadoff grounder to shortstop. Severino struck out nine — eight swinging — many on a devastating slider. He threw 48 fastballs, 43 sliders and 21 changeups. And he made a nifty barehand grab to throw out Jose Peraza on a chopper for the final out in the seventh.
"I thought he threw an outstanding game, and I thought he had command of everything today," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Maybe some of the best stuff he's had all year long."
Severino was 5-3 with a 2.89 ERA in the final two months of the 2015 season but was demoted to the minors for long stretches last year and even sent to the bullpen, finishing 3-8 with a 5.83 ERA with the Yankees. Mixing his pitches and showing better control, he has allowed one earned run in 21 innings since the All-Star break.
"If there's a guy that I haven't seen before that looks like an ace, it's that kid," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "I mean it's a quick arm, three pitches for strikes, he'll throw them all in any count, and he throws 'em with command. That's a difference maker. That's certainly a guy you can build a rotation around."
Gregorius hit his fourth homer in three games for the Yankees, who have won five of six heading into a series against AL rival Tampa Bay. Acquired last week from the Chicago White Sox, Todd Frazier hit a solo homer against Tony Cingrani that capped a five-run seventh , opening a 9-2 lead.
"In the pinstripes, hitting a home run on your home turf, basically — you live an hour away. It's pretty memorable," said Frazier, who is from Toms River, New Jersey. "I know I'll be getting a lot of texts from all my Yankee fan friends. It was cool. My parents are happy. Everybody's happy."
Cincinnati has lost three straight and is 2-11 since the All-Star break. Homer Bailey (2-5) lost his third start in a row, giving up seven runs — five earned — and 10 hits in six-plus innings.
Rookie Clint Frazier, taking advantage of playing time while Aaron Hicks recovers from an oblique strain, hit RBI singles in the third and fifth innings, and Chase Headley hit an RBI single in the sixth and scored on Ronald Torreyes' groundout. Throwing errors by shortstop Jose Peraza and first baseman Joey Votto made the runs unearned.
Eugenio Suarez stopped Severino's scoreless streak at 17 innings with an RBI double in the seventh and scored on Tucker Barnhart's groundout. Adam Duvall added a three-run homer in the eighth against Luis Cessa.
FUN WITH EMOJIS
Gregorius usually tweets different emojis after a win to honor that day's impact players and used a boxing glove to represent Todd Frazier and carrot and the word "top" to honor Clint Frazier — an homage to the rookie's fiery mop of hair.
"I've been using it for a while," Gregorius chuckled. "It's not the first time."
A fan sitting beyond the first-base dugout was hit by a foul ball off the bat of Aaron Judge on Tuesday. New York said Wednesday the man was given first aid at the ballpark and received medical attention elsewhere following the game. The ball was clocked at 105 mph as it left Judge's bat, and the fan had a bloody bandage around his head as he left his seat.
Reds: Zack Cozart (sore quadriceps) did not play. The All-Star shortstop reached first base as a pinch hitter on Tuesday night and hobbled into third on a Billy Hamilton RBI double. Price said he does not expect the injury to be a long-term setback. ... Minor league INF Dilson Herrera is scheduled for season-ending arthroscopic surgery on Tuesday to remove bone chips from his right shoulder. He is expected to be ready for spring training.
Yankees: Judge, 7 for 41 since the All-Star break, was given the day off. "He's a little physically beat up but nothing serious," Girardi said. "We just felt with a quick turnaround a day off would be good." Judge crashed into the outfield wall attempting to field Hamilton's double on Tuesday. He is expected to be in Thursday's lineup.
Reds: Cincinnati begins a four-game series at the Marlins on Thursday night with a rematch of rookie starters. RHP Robert Stephenson (0-3, 8.10 ERA) faces Miami for the second time in less than a week. Recalled from Triple-A on Saturday to make his first start of the season, the former first-round pick lost to the Marlins after allowing five runs in 5 1/3 innings.
Yankees: LHP CC Sabathia (9-3, 3.44 ERA) starts the series opener against the Rays, who go with RHP Chris Archer (7-6, 3.77 ERA).
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