Three batters into Friday night's game against the White Sox and the Yankees were trailing by three runs. It was not what they or pitcher Shane Greene had in mind.
Greene, in his eighth big-league start, gave up a pair of singles to open the game. Then he had to face White Sox rookie slugger Jose Abreu, who sent a flat 2-and-1 slider just beyond Brett Gardner's leap and the auxiliary scoreboard in leftfield for a three-run home run.
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But Greene settled down and the Yankees tied it in the fifth before winning, 4-3, on Martin Prado's bases-loaded single with two outs in the ninth.
Gardner, who threw out the potential go-ahead run at the plate to end the sixth, called it "the biggest win of the year."
Ichiro Suzuki started the ninth with a single off Daniel Webb (5-4) and moved to second on Gardner's sacrifice bunt. Derek Jeter lined to center for the second out before the White Sox intentionally walked Jacoby Ellsbury to get to Mark Teixeira, who walked on a 3-and-2 pitch to load the bases
Prado, who hit a two-run homer in the third to start the comeback, fell behind 0-and-2. He worked the count to 3-and-2 before grounding the game-winning single to center.
"I can describe it as one of the biggest moments of my career," Prado said.
Said Joe Girardi: "A huge night from him. The two-run homer to get us back in the game, obviously. [In the ninth] hitting down 0-2 with a guy throwing 98. It was not an easy at-bat but he found a way to get it done."
David Robertson (2-4), the fourth Yankees pitcher, picked up the win with a scoreless top of the ninth. Robertson struck out two, including the 500th and 501st of his career. He is the fastest Yankee ever to 500.
After Abreu's 33rd homer in the first, Greene gave up a fly ball to the warning track in right and another drive that nearly pinned Ellsbury to the wall in center. It looked as if it was going to be a long night for Greene and the Yankees.
But Greene settled in and got the Yankees into the sixth inning. By then the Yankees had tied the game against lefthander John Danks on a third-inning, two-run home run by Prado and an RBI double by Ellsbury in the fifth.
Greene's final line: five innings, nine hits, three runs, two walks, seven strikeouts. Considering how it started, not bad. Not bad at all.
"Just looked like he was a little off the whole night," Girardi said. "But he made some pitches when he had to. He fought."
Greene found the downward tilt on his slider after the first inning. He struck out the side in the third and was helped by double plays in the fourth and fifth.
In the sixth, however, Greene hit Conor Gillaspie with a 1-and-2 pitch and gave up a single to Alexei Ramirez.
Girardi called on Shawn Kelley, who struck out the first two batters he faced. Alejandro De Aza next slapped a single to left, but Gardner fired to the plate to easily retire Gillaspie for the third out of the inning.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura asked the umpires to review whether Francisco Cervelli had illegally blocked the plate without the ball when he moved over to his left to catch the throw from Gardner. After a review of 1:04, the call stood.