CC Sabathia, Carlos Zambrano give up five homers apiece

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With the 2011 scheduled nearly three-quarters completed, just one pitcher had given up five homers in a game, that being the long-since demoted Sean O’Sullivan of the Royals on May 28 against the Rangers.

On Friday night, it happened twice more to two of the game’s highest-paid pitchers.   The Yankees’ CC Sabathia gave up five solo homers — and no other runs — over eight innings in a loss to the Rays, and the Cubs’ Carlos Zambrano also surrendered five homers while allowing eight runs in 4 1/3 innings against the Braves.

After giving up back-to-back homers in the fifth, Zambrano was tossed for throwing at Chipper Jones.

Sabathia, a Cy Young contender trying to become the year’s second 17-game winner, surrendered homers to Casey Kotchman, Kelly Shoppach, Johnny Damon, Elliot Johnson and Evan Longoria.  He had never before allowed more than three homers in a start, and he had given up a total of eight homers in 25 starts this season.

Zambrano, who had turned in four straight quality starts, saw his ERA jump to 4.82 with the showing.  Dan Uggla, riding a 31-game hitting streak, took him deep twice.  Zambrano has allowed 19 homers in 145 2/3 innings this year, two more than he gave up in 299 innings between 2009 and ’10.

It was the first time either the Rays or the Braves had hit five homers in a game this season.

Sabathia became the first Yankees pitcher to give up five homers since David Wells on July 4, 2003 against the Red Sox.  Five Yankees pitchers had done it previously.

Zambrano, meanwhile, was the fourth Cubs pitcher to pull off the feat.  It was done previously by Ismael Valdez on June 11, 2000 against the White Sox.

Report: Mariners sign Juan Nicasio to a two-year deal

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Mariners have signed pitcher Juan Nicasio to a two-year contract, pending a physical.

Nicasio, 31, spent last season with the Pirates, Phillies, and Cardinals, putting up an aggregate 2.61 ERA with a 72/20 K/BB ratio in 72 1/3 innings. He appeared in 76 games, leading the National League.

Nicasio will help bolster the Mariners’ bullpen behind closer Edwin Diaz. It’s not known exactly what role he’ll have but it seems reasonable to assume he’ll handle mostly the seventh inning while Nick Vincent will set up for Diaz. Nicasio does have plenty of starting experience so he could also spot start in a pinch.