Yankees closer Mariano Rivera looks at the scoreboard after the...

Yankees closer Mariano Rivera looks at the scoreboard after the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox. (Aug. 7, 2013) Credit: AP

CHICAGO -- Lost a bit in the Big Top A-Rod events of recent weeks has been a Yankees' season in full crash-and-burn mode.

And a crushing loss last night to the last-place White Sox very well might have ended, though not officially, the club's slim playoff hopes.

Alejandro De Aza handed the Yankees a brutal defeat when he ripped a two-run triple off Adam Warren in the 12th inning, giving Chicago a 6-5 win and a three-game sweep. The White Sox had lost 10 in a row before the Yankees, twice within an out of the win last night, came to town.

"This one is tough to go home without a victory," said Mariano Rivera, 35-for-37 in saves this season before allowing Adam Dunn's two-out RBI single in the ninth that sent the game into extra innings.

It appeared as if Robinson Cano had made sure the embarrassing sweep wouldn't occur.

The slumping second baseman led off the 12th a long home run to right-center off Dylan Axelrod to snap a 4-4 tie. Cano had been in a 6-for-43 skid and without a homer in his previous 81 at-bats.

Warren retired the first two batters of the ninth before Tyler Flowers reached on an infield single that banged off the pitcher's glove.

"It's a play he probably makes 99 out of a 100 times," Joe Girardi said. "Kind of the way the road trip's been."

The Yankees (57-56) completed the three-city trip, characterized as "terrible'' the previous day by GM Brian Cashman, 2-6. Overall, they have lost 14 of their last 20. "We need to turn things around when we come home," Girardi said.

After an off day today, Alex Rodriguez will make his 2013 Stadium debut tomorrow night as the Yankees start a three-game series against the Tigers.

"I'm not sure," Rodriguez said, asked how he things fans will receive him. "Again, I'm just super excited to come home and put on the pinstripes and play in front of the greatest fans in baseball . . . Friday night should be, hopefully, a very fun night. New York fans are the best."

Not surprisingly, A-Rod managed to find himself in the spotlight late. The third baseman had a chance to play hero in the 11th, coming up with Brett Gardner on third and two outs. Rodriguez, 1-for-4 with a walk to that point, bounced to third to end the inning.

Gardner reached when his blooper fell into short rightfield. But Jayson Nix, who walked to lead off the inning, was unsure whether the ball would be caught. He fell in between first and second and was thrown out.

Rodriguez finished the series 3-for-11 with two walks.

"I would have enjoyed getting a big hit there," A-Rod said.

The Yankees had few of those the last three days, going 3-for-33 with runners in scoring position in the series and standing 30.

Alfonso Soriano and Eduardo Nuñez did homer in the game, giving the Yankees their first three-homer game since June 25.

Rivera retired the first two batters of the ninth but Gordon Beckham doubled to right-center to keep the White Sox (42-70) alive. Dunn, pinch hitting, fell behind 0-and-2 before sending Rivera's next pitch through the left side of the infield for a single, tying it at 4.

"Dunn, he had a good at-bat, even though it was two strikes, threw the bat at the ball and found the hole," said Rivera, who pitched a 1-2-3 10, marking the first time since June 16, 2011 he went two innings in a regular season game. "It's tough. We played tremendous game and we gave it right back. CC pitched tremendous."

Nothing personified the club's plummet in the division and AL wild-card standings more than the continued struggles of Sabathia, 0-4 with a 7.85 ERA in five starts since his last victory, July 3 in Minnesota. Last night he allowed three runs and five hits in 71/3 innings.

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