Mariano Rivera's four-out save gives Yankees sweep of White Sox

Yankees relief pitcher Mariano Rivera leaves the field

Yankees relief pitcher Mariano Rivera leaves the field after shutting down the White Sox in the top of the eighth. (Sept. 4, 2013) (Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan)

Now you know why Joe Girardi wants to talk Mariano Rivera out of retirement.

The Yankees, about to blow a five-run lead to the White Sox, had to call on Rivera for a four-out save Wednesday night in a 6-5 victory at Yankee Stadium.

Fortunately for Girardi and the Yankees, Rivera came through. First, he struck out Alejandro De Aza looking on a borderline 3-and-2 pitch to end the eighth with the potential tying and go-ahead runs on base.

Then Rivera sent Chicago down 1-2-3 in the ninth for his 41st save as the Yankees avoided what would have been a devastating loss to one of baseball's worst teams.

"It doesn't matter,'' said winning pitcher CC Sabathia. "A win is a win and at this point we need a lot of them.''

The Yankees remained 21/2 games behind Tampa Bay for the second AL wild-card spot after the Rays beat the Angels, 3-1, in Anaheim.

Robinson Cano homered, his 26th, and had two RBIs and Brett Gardner had a two-run triple for the Yankees, who have won five of six with the AL East-leading Red Sox coming to town tonight for the first of a four-game series.

The Yankees trail Boston by eight games in the division. The Red Sox hit eight home runs Wednesday night in a 20-4 win over Detroit.

"It's a tough series,'' Girardi said. "They're playing well. They're swinging the bats well. It's been a team that we've been chasing pretty much the whole year. Obviously, it's extremely important."

The Yankees were leading 6-1 entering the eighth and preparing to sweep the White Sox. Sabathia allowed two singles around a forceout and was lifted for David Robertson. Sabathia received a huge ovation from the crowd of 36,082.

Robertson wasn't so fortunate when he walked off the mound after five batters with the score 6-5 and runners on first and second.

Robertson got only one out; he allowed an RBI single to Avisail Garcia, a walk to Dayan Viciedo, a two-run single to Josh Phegley and an RBI hit to Marcus Semien (not exactly household names).

"It's definitely what I don't want to do,'' Robertson said. "I don't want to come into the game like that and turn around and make it where's it's a one-run ballgame. I stunk out there today and Mo had to come pick me up.''

A day earlier, Girardi told reporters he plans to call the 43-year-old Rivera during the offseason to see if he really wants to stay retired. A perplexed Rivera later said he has no plans to return after this season.

After the eighth inning, maybe Girardi, Brian Cashman and the entire Yankees braintrust should lobby Rivera this winter.

"We brought in guys that have done the job all year and we eventually got it done,'' Girardi said. "But it probably got a little closer than all of us liked.''

Sabathia overcame a shaky first inning -- two walks and an RBI double by Garcia -- to pitch into the eighth. He was charged with three runs, five hits and four walks and struck out four.

Cano hit a solo homer in the first off Erik Johnson, who was making his major-league debut. It remained tied until the fourth, when the Yankees scored four runs on four hits and a throwing error by Johnson. Two of the runs were unearned.

Lyle Overbay had an RBI double, Gardner ripped a two-run triple and Cano had an RBI single off Johnson's glove to make it 5-1. Alfonso Soriano added a sacrifice fly in the seventh, which provided what became a crucial insurance run.

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