On a sweltering night in the Bronx, the Yankees' lineup turned ice cold.
CC Sabathia fought through the heat to allow three runs over six innings, but the Yankees followed up a four-game sweep of Baltimore by dropping two of three to the out-of-it White Sox with a meek 4-1 loss Wednesday night at the Stadium. The White Sox hadn't taken a series there since 2005.
The Yankees slipped back to 7 1/2 games behind victorious Boston in the AL East.
"I walk in there [ticked] off every night when we lose. It's disheartening whoever it's against," Aaron Boone said. "I don't get caught up in the opponent and 'we have to win this many against this team.' It's today."
The White Sox (53-80) reached Sabathia for two runs in a laborious second inning for him, with Ryan LaMarre rifling a two-out double over Giancarlo Stanton's head in rightfield. LaMarre laced another double to left two innings later for a 3-0 lead, and he added a solo homer against Chad Green in the seventh for his first career four-RBI game.
The Yanks (84-49) mustered little offense over seven innings against Reynaldo Lopez (5-9), who was 0-4 with a 6.70 ERA in nine starts since his previous victory on July 1.
Neil Walker had completed Tuesday's comeback win with a pinch-hit home run in the ninth, but the switch hitter was robbed of a solo shot in the second inning on a leaping grab by rightfielder Avisail Garcia.
Greg Bird essentially had been benched in favor of righty-swinging Luke Voit four times over a five-game stretch through Monday, but Bird made his second straight start at first base despite an 0-for-21 skid and a .196 batting average.
Bird snapped his drought with a double to right to open the third, but Lopez retired the next three batters, including Brett Gardner on a topper to first to strand Bird at third.
"The conversation is ongoing, and it's all around trying to put him in the best place to get it rolling, because when he's good, it's impactful," Boone said of Bird before the game. "If we can get him going in the right direction, I'm positive he can not only really help us down the stretch but hopefully if we get on into the playoffs."
Bird flied out to left following singles by Walker and Gleyber Torres in the fifth, when the Yanks broke through for their lone run on Ronald Torreyes' one-out single to left.
But an opportunity to inflict more damage -- with Stanton batting with the bases loaded -- was squandered. Torres was cut down at the plate by catcher Kevan Smith for the third out while trying to score on a wild pitch by Lopez. The pitcher made a nice scoop of Smith's low throw as Torres slid into the tag.
"Being aggressive and I saw the opportunity to score, but the catcher and pitcher made a really good play," Torres said.
"The ball is to the backstop and it just kind of bounces perfect," Boone said. "You don't want to take chances in that situation, but that's one of those fluky bounces that didn't go the right way for us."
With the aid of two fine catches by Aaron Hicks in center, Sabathia (7-5, 3.36) lasted six innings and handed off the 3-1 deficit to Chad Green in the seventh. Green was tagged for a leadoff blast to right by LaMarre, and the Yankees couldn't mount their second consecutive late-game comeback.
"It is what it is,'' Sabathia said. "You go out and play the game hard, and sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. We lost this series and we'll try to get the next one."