Yankees' five-run eighth beats White Sox
It seems as if every season now a team comes from way back to earn a playoff spot, especially in the wild-card era. A few more games like Tuesday night's, and the Yankees just might be that team.
Trailing by three runs in the eighth inning, the Yankees scored five times to beat the White Sox, 6-4, before 33,215 at Yankee Stadium.
Eduardo Nuñez had the go-ahead hit, a two-run double, and he raised his arms in triumph at second base and pounded his chest after the Yankees took their first lead.
"It's a great win for us,'' manager Joe Girardi said. "Think about what we're fighting to do -- we're trying to gain ground on teams -- and every game is important.''
The Yankees remained 21/2 games behind Tampa Bay for the second AL wild-card spot after the Rays' 7-1 victory over the Angels in Anaheim. They moved a half game ahead of Baltimore, which lost to Cleveland.
The Yankees (74-64), who have won four of five, moved to 10 games over .500 for the first time since June 11.
"We've been fighting the whole year,'' said Mariano Rivera, who pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his 40th save. "And now that we have all those guys back, anything can happen. We're playing nine hard innings. And it showed tonight.''
Boone Logan (5-2), who threw a scoreless inning, was the winning pitcher. Hiroki Kuroda gave up four runs in 61/3 innings.
The Yankees were trailing 4-1 heading into the eighth and were being handcuffed by hard-throwing lefty Chris Sale. Their only run had come on a double steal in the second inning when Nuñez stopped between first and second and Vernon Wells beat the return throw home.
But five consecutive hits -- two off Sale and three off White Sox relievers -- brought the Yankees to a 4-all tie.
"It's just grinding out at-bats and taking what they give you,'' Girardi said. "In a tough situation. In an important situation.''
With one out, Derek Jeter singled and moved to third on Robinson Cano's double off the leftfield wall. Sale, who has given the Yankees fits, was replaced by righthander Nate Jones (4-5).
Alfonso Soriano, who earlier misplayed a pair of balls in left, smacked a two-run single to center to make it 4-3.
The inning nearly cratered when Soriano just got back to first on a pickoff attempt by catcher Josh Phegley with Alex Rodriguez batting.
"I knew the ball beat me,'' said Soriano, who slid to the outfield side of the base and was never tagged by Paul Konerko. "He made a good throw. Very close, but I made a good dive.''
Rodriguez singled Soriano to third. Pinch hitter Curtis Granderson singled to right-center off lefthander Donnie Veal to tie it at 4.
Girardi could have stayed with Wells against the righthander, but he chose the strikeout-prone Granderson, knowing White Sox manager Robin Ventura would bring in the lefty.
"Grandy's been a guy that has put the ball in the air,'' Girardi said. "He's a guy that can hit some deep fly balls. You're really at least looking for a sac fly.''
After Veal struck out Mark Reynolds for the second out, Nuñez lashed the go-ahead double to left against righthander Matt Lindstrom.
"Great at-bat by Sori, great at-bat by Al, I think they both got to two strikes,'' Girardi said. "Grandy had two strikes. It was just one good at-bat after another. I thought the at-bats were very good, and Nuney gets the big hit.''