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Six-run fifth lifts Yankees

Chicago White Sox catcher Ramon Castro watches as

Chicago White Sox catcher Ramon Castro watches as Nick Swisher reacts at the plate after hitting a seventh-inning two-run home run. (April 28, 2011) Credit: AP

The Yankees didn't even need any hits to get the better of Edwin Jackson. But in the bottom of the fifth Thursday night, they used the White Sox starter as a batting practice fill-in, hitting for the cycle in an eight-pitch span en route to a six-run inning.

Already leading by two runs despite failing to get a hit against Jackson in the first four innings, the Yankees had their first nine batters reach base in the fifth en route to a 12-3 victory over the White Sox at Yankee Stadium.

The half-inning -- which lasted 32 minutes -- began with Brett Gardner's home run to rightfield and continued with Eduardo Nuñez's double, Curtis Granderson's triple and Nick Swisher's single.

That knocked out Jackson, and the Yankees continued the onslaught against Tony Peña. Robinson Cano singled, Alex Rodriguez doubled home a run, Eric Chavez was intentionally walked, Russsell Martin singled home a run and Jorge Posada walked to force home a run.

That loaded the bases -- and the White Sox still hadn't retired a batter. No further damage was done that inning, but the Yankees had given CC Sabathia all the runs he needed.

The Yankees had 13 hits and eight walks, but the most welcome sight of all might have been Swisher's two-run home run in the seventh. Swisher (three hits), who snapped an 0-for-19 skid with his single in the fifth, crushed his first homer of the season, in his 76th at-bat and 94th plate appearance. He hit 29 home runs last year.

Gardner, who now has 11 career home runs, admitted he's been teasing Swisher about the lack of production. "Like ask him how many home runs he has this year. Things like that,'' Gardner said with a smile. "He takes it pretty well and he's a competitor and we have a lot of fun going back and forth with each other.''

Swisher said the long-ball drought had been on his mind for the past week. "It really started eating away at me,'' he said. "Especially when Gardy started hitting them.''

The two home runs gave the Yankees 41 in 22 games.

Somewhere in the barrage of base hits and fielding miscues, Sabathia's sterling performance somehow got lost. But Sabathia (2-1), who threw 100 pitches (65 for strikes), allowed seven hits and three runs, none of them earned, in seven innings. He struck out six and walked one.

Sabathia held the White Sox scoreless for six innings before a two-out error by shortstop Eduardo Nunez, his second of the game, set the stage for three unearned runs in the seventh.

Sabathia got into a second-and-third, none-out jam in the top of the first but escaped without any damage. "I think you can look at that and say that's the difference in the ballgame,'' Joe Girardi said.

In the last five games, Yankees starters have allowed three earned runs in 351/3 innings for a 0.76 ERA. Said Girardi, "They've gotten on a roll and I think they feed off each other.'' And Sabathia added, "You never wanna be the guy'' -- he smiled -- "you're going to try to repeat that.''

Jackson, on the other hand, walked four straight batters with one out in the third, throwing a wild pitch in the process. He walked Swisher to force home a run and allowed a sacrifice fly to Cano to make it 2-0. But the Yankees still didn't have a hit.

A key play in the fifth, oddly enough, occurred when Brent Lillibridge misplayed Nunez's liner to left, taking a step in before it soared over his head. He had robbed the Yankees of a win Tuesday night with two spectacular catches in rightfield for the final two outs of the game.

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