KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Chase Headley, freed last season from the yoke of the anemic San Diego Padres, has relished simply being a cog in a lineup where so many batters might be viewed as a threat.
“It’s important in today’s games to score in multiple ways, and I think hitting home runs is more important than it’s ever been,” Headley said. “The pitching is so much better that it’s hard to string together three or four hits in an inning. The quick strike is important.”
Headley’s drive down the left-field line, which came on a 3-2 pitch from Danny Duffy with two outs in the fifth inning and the score tied, was a jolt the Yankees sorely needed, having scored six runs during their four-game skid.
The big hit complemented the pitching of C. C. Sabathia, who won his second consecutive start after starting the season with five straight losses. Sabathia allowed six hits, five of them singles, in seven innings, with five strikeouts and no walks. The one run was the fewest he has allowed in eight starts. Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller pitched an orderly eighth and ninth.
“I guess I’m an old man now — I need my rest,” said Sabathia, who threw 87 pitches, 64 for strikes.
Sabathia escaped a bases-loaded, no-out predicament in the third, giving up one run. He retired Mike Moustakas on a sacrifice fly, then struck out Lorenzo Cain, who was batting .450 against left-handers, and Eric Hosmer, whose 29 R.B.I. were second in the American League at the start of the day.
He also pitched around an error by second baseman Jose Pirela in the fifth.
Alex Rodriguez added a solo homer in the ninth to give the Yankees 46. They are on a pace to hit 196 home runs, far exceeding the last two seasons, when they hit 147 and 144 and slumped to near the bottom of the league in runs scored, finishing 13th last year and 10th in 2013.
“Guys understand that there’s going to be ebbs and flows of the season,” Headley said. “There was definitely no panic, but there’s a sense of urgency when things aren’t going the way we want them to. We haven’t been able to get the big hit. Tonight it was nice to be able to come through.”