Another rescue mission for Mo

U.S. Cellular Field played like Wrigley Field Saturday night. Illinois native Joe Girardi knows all about nights like this, which should give him pause if he is tempted to go home next year and manage the Cubs. Remember, Joe, you can’t bring Mariano Rivera with you.

Such games as Saturday night’s 12-9 slugfest are why Yankees fans celebrate having Rivera as their closer. He should have been cooling his heels in the bullpen, but relievers Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson had their first off nights in quite a while as the White Sox kept creeping back into the game. Mo was summoned in the ninth after Robertson gave up a home run, a triple and a single to the first three batters.

Rivera got two quick outs inducing a grounder from Carlos Quentin that was turned into a double play. Ramon Castro kept the inning alive with a single, and Andruw Jones, who turned back the clock with a perfect night (home run, double, single, two bases on balls, two RBI) worked out a walk, which brought the potential tying run to the plate. That was Mark Teahen, who finally ended it with a soft liner to second baseman Robinson Cano.

In the middle of the eighth inning, this looked like a piece of cake for the Yankees, who had an 11-5 lead with CC Sabathia becoming the first Yankees starter in eight games to pitch beyond the sixth inning. Sabathia almost let all of a 6-1, third-inning lead get away as a pair of two-run home runs by Paul Konerko and Jones got the White Sox to 6-5 in the fourth.

Two-run homers by Nick Swisher in the first, Eduardo Nunez (career No. 1) in the second and Marcus Thames (the first of two bombs for him in the game) in the third fashioned the early lead. For all that power, the biggest hit of the game for the Yankees was a two-out, two-run double by Jorge Posada in the fifth. It unnerved reliever Tony Pena, who walked the next two hitters and gave up a two-run single to Nunez, the rookie third baseman who had a game worthy of Alex Rodriguez.

Sabathia sort of sauntered his way over the first four innings, but after Jones’ home run CC struck out seven of the next 11 hitters and got through the seventh without yielding another run. His fifth straight victory raised his season mark to 18-5 with a 3.14 ERA, which are surely Cy Young Award numbers. Other impressive figures for Sabathia are a 38-10 career mark in August with a 3.14 ERA, a 16-4 lifetime record against the White Sox with a 3.72 ERA, including 9-1 with a 3.33 ERA at the Cell.

Still, he had to sweat through the later innings as the bullpen struggled until you know who did what he does best.

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