One pair of Sox down, one more to go


The Yankees paid the White Sox back for that miserable three-game sweep a month ago at Chicago by returning the favor at Yankee Stadium. The Yanks’ futility at U.S. Cellular Field marked the low point of the season. They left there only one game over .500 (57-56) but have played .692 ball since (18-8) and are 11 games over at 75-64 as they continue to push for a high point of the season, a postseason berth.

What better way to go into a four-game showdown with the Red Sox at the Stadium beginning Thursday night than to dust off an inferior opponent even if things got a bit dicey in the later innings? The Yanks watched a 6-1 lead behind a good outing by CC Sabathia (13-11) shrink to 6-5 by the eighth inning before Mariano Rivera settled matters with his first four-out save in two years.

Mo’s 41st save this season and career No. 649 complimented a sturdy offensive attack by the Yankees, who had another crooked-number inning that have become more regular these days. It was a four-run fourth against rookie righthander Eric Johnson in his big-league debut that put the Yankees in control. Johnson contributed to the rally with a throwing error. The big blow was a two-run triple by Brett Gardner after Lyle Overbay’s RBI single had put the Yanks ahead. Robinson Cano, who homered (No. 26) in the first inning, drove in the fourth run of the fourth with an infield single in a three-hit, two-RBI game.

Alfonso Soriano’s 40th RBI in 37 games with the Yankees on a sacrifice fly in the seventh seemed a tack-on run at the time but proved the game decider when the White Sox put together a four-run inning of their own the next inning.

Sabathia pitched into the eighth inning for the first time in five starts. He left with one out and a couple of runners on base, both of whom scored as David Robertson had a rollercoaster inning that required Rivera’s parachute as the White Sox closed to one run. Mo stranded two runners by striking out Alejandro De Aza looking and then pitched a 1-2-3 ninth.

No wonder manager Joe Girardi wants him back next year.

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