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Improvement still disastrous

C.C. Sabathia allowed four runs in six-plus innings. C.C. Sabathia allowed four runs in six-plus innings. (JIM DAVIS/GLOBE STAFF)

CLEVELAND - When he departed Game 1 after 4 1/3 innings, he was disappointed in his inability to throw strikes, having walked five and allowed eight runs on seven hits in a 10-3 drubbing. Last night, with a World Series berth at stake in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series, C.C. Sabathia's abject humiliation was replaced by the sobering acceptance that, as well as he thought he pitched, it still wasn't good enough to beat the Red Sox' Josh Beckett.

"I had pretty good stuff and felt pretty good, but it didn't work out in my favor," said Sabathia (0-2, 10.45 ERA in the ALCS), who absorbed a 7-1 loss, allowing four runs on 10 hits while recording six strikeouts and issuing two walks.

"Fastball," Sabathia said of the homer he surrendered to the second batter he faced, Kevin Youkilis. "He put a pretty good swing on it and hit it out of the park."

Sabathia allowed the Sox to push another run across in the third when David Ortiz (who walked) scored from first on Manny Ramírez's apparent home run that flew over the head of center fielder Grady Sizemore and bounced high off the padding back onto the field, leaving Ramírez with a single.

"Didn't see what happened on that one," Sabathia said. "Never saw it."

Cleveland's big lefthander, who had dialed up the heat to 98 miles per hour at one point in the early going, began to unravel with two out the fifth when he gave up a single up the middle to Ortiz, walked Ramírez, then hit Mike Lowell to load the bases.

Sabathia got out of the jam by inducing Bobby Kielty to fly to right.

After he recorded a 1-2-3 sixth, Sabathia came out for the seventh and was charged with two more runs when he allowed a leadoff double to Dustin Pedroia and a triple to Youkilis before he handed the ball to Rafael Betancourt after throwing 112 pitches.

"C.C. pitched probably as good as he pitched the prior inning," manager Eric Wedge said when asked about his decision to send Sabathia out for the seventh, even though his pitch count had exceeded 100. "He was pretty efficient. If you go straight to Betancourt, you're talking about Betancourt throwing two innings down, and the way C.C. was throwing, it wasn't something I was interested in because it's going to weaken us over the weekend, if everything remains the same."

Asked if he was disappointed by the fact that he was unable to help the Indians clinch at Jacobs Field, Sabathia said, "I guess I can say that I am disappointed. I came out in the seventh and left two balls up and ended up giving up the runs, but I definitely feel like I can sleep tonight, not like I did the other night, because I pitched the way I pitch and I just got beat tonight."

Michael Vega can be reached at vega@globe.com.

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