NEW YORK (AP) -- Alex Rodriguez sent a drive to deep right field and turned excitedly toward the Yankees' dugout, expecting to see jubilant teammates jumping over the railing to celebrate a walk-off win.
Hang on a sec, A-Rod, it's only the eighth inning. Still need three more outs.
" I thought I hit a much bigger home run than I actually did,'' Rodriguez said with a sheepish grin. " Pretty embarrassing."
The three-time MVP did snap a tie with that clutch swing and CC Sabathia won his sixth straight start, leading New York past the Seattle Mariners 4-2 on Thursday to avoid a three-game sweep.
Lee and Hernandez each went the distance, marking the first time two visiting pitchers had consecutive complete-game wins at Yankee Stadium since May 1991, when Mark Langston and Jim Abbott did it for the California Angels.
New York's bats didn't exactly break loose against Ryan Rowland-Smith, but this time it was the Yankees who got the exquisite pitching performance.
" CC threw a great game,'' Rodriguez said. " Anytime you go eight innings and they only score two runs you want to reward him with a win."
Branyan was thrown out trying to reach second on the relay, ending the inning.
" I attacked him the way I always attack him. He just hit it in the right spot,'' Aardsma said. " In this ballpark, anything up in the air ... He's just strong enough to get it out."
It was the 595th career home run for Rodriguez, who got a semi-rest as the designated hitter and was out of sorts by the end of the day.
" We ran into a wave of great pitching here on Friday and Saturday. Friday and Saturday, right? The last two nights. That's how bad they had us. Today's Thursday," Rodriguez said, drawing laughs.
Mariano Rivera worked a perfect ninth for his 18th save in 19 tries.
Sabathia yielded two runs - one earned - and five hits in eight innings, improving to 11-0 with a 2.03 ERA in his last 15 starts at home since last year's All-Star break. It's the longest active winning streak of its kind in the majors.
" I thought CC had great stuff,'' Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. " He kind of mirrored Lee and Hernandez the past two days. I really liked the way our guys fought back against him late."
The Yankees have totaled 10 runs in Sabathia's past three outings, but the big left-hander has been dominant enough to win them all.
He pitched around Bradley's leadoff double in the second and just about cruised into the eighth, when he waited to warm up while the grounds crew groomed the mound.
Josh Bard drew a leadoff walk and Ichiro Suzuki singled with one out. After Chone Figgins popped out, Posada let a breaking ball to Branyan glance off his mitt, allowing both runners to advance. Branyan then hit a line drive to right field on Sabathia's 117th and final pitch, a season high.
" I didn't throw the ball particularly well, just tried to grind through it,'' Sabathia said. " Just making pitches when I need to. I was behind in the count a lot."
Rivera sealed Seattle's fourth loss in 13 games. The punchless Mariners, who have scored the fewest runs in the American League, fell short of their first three-game road sweep since April 10-12, 2009, at Oakland.
The last time they swept three games at Yankee Stadium was May 3-5, 2002.
No visiting team has pulled off a three-game sweep at the new Yankee Stadium, now in its second season.
" You never want to get swept," Sabathia said.
NOTES: It was Rodriguez's 250th home run with the Yankees, tying Graig Nettles for eighth place on the franchise list. ... Cano hit his 10th homer off a left-hander, most in the majors. ... Seattle 2B Chone Figgins had stolen a base in seven consecutive games before Thursday, the longest streak in club history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. ... 3B Jose Lopez went 0 for 3 with a walk, ending his 13-game hitting streak.