KANSAS CITY, Missouri — Danny Duffy had better location on his fastball. He limited the damage after walking the bases loaded in the third inning. He felt stronger than he has in a while.
All that was missing was the result.
After giving up a pair of two-out singles in the fifth, Duffy went ahead 0-2 on the Yankees third baseman. Headley battled back to force a full count, then swatted a pitch into the bullpen in left field, the three-run homer staking the Yankees to a 4-1 lead.
Alex Rodriguez added a solo shot in the ninth to finish off the game.
"It was one bad inning (the third) and one bad pitch (to Headley). It's frustrating," Duffy said. "What's done is done. ... I feel like I'm going to turn the corner."
Perhaps he already has. Duffy (2-3) gave up four runs without retiring a batter in the second inning two starts ago, and allowed six runs in 3 2-3 innings his last time out.
He wound up allowing four hits and four walks against the Yankees on Saturday night.
"When you throw 113 pitches in five innings, you've got an issue somewhere," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "If you're looking on the bright side, it was a little bit better. His feel and touch was better. He was staying within himself better, but the results still weren't there."
CC Sabathia (2-5) was the one that got the results.
Pitching as well as he has all season, the big Yankees starter needed just 87 pitches to cruise through seven innings. He allowed one run on six hits without a walk to win his second straight start — and put a lousy April even further behind him.
"CC has not been a strong pitcher in April for much of his career," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "But look at what he's done his last few starts. Hopefully he keeps rolling."
Both teams squandered opportunities for big innings in the third.
Duffy walked three of the first four Yankees he faced in the frame, and Carlos Beltran's sacrifice fly made it 1-0. Headley followed with a flyout to end the inning.
The Royals countered with three straight singles off Sabathia to begin their half, including a chopper that Sabathia fielded cleanly but was slow in throwing to first base. Mike Moustakas hit his own sacrifice fly before Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer struck out to end the inning.
"We've been grinding to score runs," Headley said. "I was able to get something I could hit."
Duffy was replaced the next inning by veteran Joe Blanton, who made his first appearance in a big league game since Sept. 3, 2013. Blanton allowed one run the final four frames.
Lightning started to flash across the sky in the seventh, but crew chief Bill Welke allowed the game to continue. Yankees relievers Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller breezed through the last two innings to help finish the game before the storms arrived.
"That's a good team, to be able to come in here and get a win, especially after what they did to us last night," Sabathia said. "It feels good."
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