Yanks wait out rain, pour it on with 8-run fourth inning in win over White Sox

New York Yankees' Brett Gardner hits a ground

New York Yankees' Brett Gardner hits a ground rule double against the Chicago White Sox. (Sept. 2, 2013) (Credit: AP)

It was an inning that resulted in a lead even the 2013 version of Phil Hughes could hold. Of course, the weather ensured that proposition wasn't tested.

Rain limited Hughes to 11/3 scoreless innings Monday afternoon. Then, shortly after the 1-hour, 53-minute delay, the Yankees erupted for an eight-run fourth inning that propelled them to a 9-1 victory over the White Sox at the Stadium.

"Hitting's contagious, and we definitely caught it right there,'' said Austin Romine, whose two-run single in the inning gave the Yankees a 4-0 lead.

It was the kind of series opener needed by the Yankees (73-64), who moved to within 2½ games of the Rays in the chase for the second AL wild card. Tampa Bay lost for the eighth time in nine games Monday night, dropping an 11-2 decision to the Angels in Anaheim.

As bad as the White Sox (56-80) have been all season, they had lost 10 straight before sweeping the Yankees in Chicago Aug. 5-7. That dropped the Yankees to 57-56, nine games behind Tampa Bay.

"We've played better, there's no doubt about it,'' Joe Girardi said of the Yankees, 16-8 since that three-game sweep. "We've added a few pieces since [then] . . . I feel a lot better.''

Girardi said earlier in the day, "We went and faced them there and they were struggling and they ended up sweeping us. We have to continue to try and move up the standings. It's an important series.''

They all are at this point, and there's reason to wonder how many of them will include a Hughes start.

The righthander, who is 4-13, hasn't won since July 2. He was 0-6 with a 5.64 ERA in his previous nine starts and 2-11 with a 5.12 ERA in his last 18 starts.

Fans clamoring for someone -- anyone -- to replace him very well could get their wish in David Huff, who replaced Hughes after the rain delay and allowed one run and five hits in 52/3 innings to pick up the victory.

Hughes' next scheduled start would be Saturday against the Red Sox. "I haven't made any decisions about changing the rotation,'' Girardi said.

That topic, however, was secondary to the offense's performance in the fourth inning.

White Sox starter Jose Quintana (7-5) allowed one run and two hits -- Brett Gardner's double and Derek Jeter's RBI single -- in the first inning. Righty Dylan Axelrod, who replaced Quintana after the delay, followed with two shutout innings.

Then it all came apart for Chicago in a flurry of line drives and ground smashes. The Yankees sent 13 men to the plate -- with 10 of the first 11 reaching base -- and combined seven hits, two walks and an error to score the eight runs, six of them earned.

Alex Rodriguez got the inning started with an opposite-field double. An infield single by Vernon Wells that deflected off Axelrod's glove and a walk to Curtis Granderson loaded the bases.

Mark Reynolds reached on another infield single to bring in a run and Romine's line-drive single to center drove in two to make it 4-0.

An RBI double by Gardner -- who has led off the first inning with a double in the last three games and has four doubles in the last two games -- made it 5-0, and Jeter's infield single, which ricocheted off Axelrod's leg, gave the Yankees a 6-0 lead.

Alfonso Soriano then doubled home a run and two more runs scored when first baseman Adam Dunn made a poor throw to second on Wells' grounder.

"We had good at-bats,'' said Jeter, who went 2-for-4 to give him 3,313 hits, tying him with Eddie Collins for ninth on the all-time list. "It's just one of those innings. You don't see it happen too often. It's very difficult to do. We were fortunate. We got some bounces that went our way, but for the most part, we had some good at-bats up and down the lineup.''

Huff shut out the White Sox until the seventh, when Paul Konerko hit his 10th homer to make it 9-1. It's the only run Huff has allowed in 15 innings since he was called up last month.

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