DETROIT — CC Sabathia did his part to help the New York Yankees close a second straight series with a sweep-avoiding win.
Sabathia pitched seven scoreless innings and Jayson Nix homered off Justin Verlander in the three-run second, lifting New York to a 7-0 victory over the Tigers on Sunday.
‘‘You always want to avoid a sweep and finish a series well,’’ Sabathia said. ‘‘It felt good to get a win.’’
Victories have been rare so far this year for the banged-up Yankees. New York (2-4) needed to beat the Tigers to avoid dropping to its worst six-game record since starting the 1989 season 1-7.
‘‘The only must-win you need is when you’re about to be eliminated,’’ Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Sabathia (1-1) gave up four hits and three walks while striking out four in 114 pitches, bouncing back from a dreadful Opening Day start.
The Yankees don’t have their best players in the lineup because All-Stars Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Curtis Granderson are on the disabled list, but Tigers manager Jim Leyland said it would be foolish to count them out this season.
‘‘They’re missing some pieces, but they’re always going to be good,’’ Leyland said. ‘‘They’ll be right in the thick of things like they always are.’’
The Yankees got all the run support they needed in the second inning when Francisco Cervelli hit an RBI double and Nix followed with a two-run, two-out homer to give the Yankees a 3-0 lead.
Verlander (1-1) allowed three runs on seven hits and three walks. Verlander lamented the high, hanging changeup he threw to Nix.
‘‘Poor pitch selection and poor pitch execution on the same pitch usually doesn’t end up too well,’’ he said.
Yankees reliever David Robertson entered in the eighth and got out of a two-on, one-out jam by getting Victor Martinez to fly to center and Matt Tuiasosopo to strike out. Mariano Rivera pitched the ninth, giving up two hits before striking out Torii Hunter.
After losing the first two games in Detroit by a combined score of 16-7, the Yankees had a strong all-around performance.
‘‘Pitching dictates everything, and CC pretty much dictated the pace,’’ Leyland said.