DENVER -- With so many New York front-line players on the disabled list, run production has become very iffy for the Yankees. Their pitching has not just sustained them but enabled them to thrive.
That scenario unfolded again Thursday afternoon when the Yankees beat the Rockies 3-1 in a game where a rain delay of 1 hour, 59 minutes led to the departure of starters C.C. Sabathia and Jeff Francis after the fourth inning. There was also an eight-minute delay at the start of the game.
Victory in the rubber game of this low-scoring series -- the Yankees lost 2-0 on Tuesday and won 3-2 on Wednesday -- resulted from the efforts of Sabathia and five relievers along with just enough offense.
Mariano Rivera capped the bullpen's five scoreless innings by retiring the side in the ninth for his 13th save in as many chances. That is his second longest streak of consecutive saves to begin a season. He converted his first 28 save opportunities in 2008.
The Yankees' pitchers held the Rockies to four singles.
Vernon Wells singled home a run in the first inning. Chris Stewart hit a sacrifice fly in the fourth and Robinson Cano, whose infield single in the third was the 1,500th hit of his career, homered in the fifth off Adam Ottavino, the only hit he gave up in three innings. It was Cano's ninth homer of the season and the first earned run Ottavino allowed in eight games dating from April 9.
Sabathia breezed through four innings on 51 pitches and allowed one hit, a single by Troy Tulowitzki in the first that paved the way for Carlos Gonzalez's sacrifice fly. After that out, Sabathia retired the final 10 batters he faced.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi called on his bullpen in two crucial situations in the sixth and seventh. Left-hander Boone Logan came on to face Gonzalez in the sixth with runners on first and second and struck him out to end the inning.
David Robertson inherited a similar situation in the seventh when he came out of the bullpen and struck out pinch-hitter Todd Helton on a curveball to end that inning. Robertson brushed aside another threat in the eighth when he struck out Gonzalez to end the inning with a runner on second base.
Francis gave up two runs in four innings, which he completed with 64 pitches, including 39 strikes. The Yankees scored a run in the first on a two-out single by Vernon Wells that brought home Jayson Nix, who had walked.
Chris Nelson led off the fourth with a double, took third on Lyle Overbay's grounder to second and scored on Stewart's sacrifice fly.
NOTES: Tulowitzki was back in the Rockies' lineup for the first time since Sunday. He had been bothered by inflammation in left adductor muscle. Manager Walt Weiss said, "I had a pretty good feeling that he'd be ready to go today. He was trying to talk his way into the lineup last night." ... Gonzalez and Tulowitzki typically hit third and fourth in the Rockies' lineup, but Weiss reversed the order for the first time this season. Neither had much history against Sabathia. Gonzalez was hitless in two at-bats against him. but Tulowitzki was 2 for 3. ... The Yankees and Texas Rangers are the only teams in the big leagues not to lose more than two consecutive games this season. ... Yankees manager Joe Girardi thinks reliever Joba Chamberlain (right oblique strain) might be activated on Tuesday in Seattle when he is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list. "He says he feels better, and he's playing catch," Girardi said. "But until he gets off a mound and turns it up a little bit, you're really not going to know."