Alex Rodriguez made a bid to tie it, then Robinson Cano. And if
not for two eye-popping plays by late substitute Brent Lillibridge,
the New York Yankees might have pulled off a stirring comeback in
the ninth inning.
Lillibridge made two spectacular catches in a row to save the
White Sox, and Gavin Floyd pitched Chicago to a 3-2 victory Tuesday
night over the suddenly slumping Yankees.
”The kid was the difference in the game,” New York manager Joe
Lillibridge entered as a pinch-runner in the eighth and scored
on Paul Konerko’s go-ahead homer off struggling setup man Rafael
Lillibridge stayed in the game in right field and, with two on
in the ninth, raced back to the wall to make a terrific catch of
Rodriguez’s opposite-field drive for the second out, robbing the
slugger of a game-tying hit and keeping the runners at first and
Robinson Cano then hit a line drive to right and Lillibridge
charged in, making an all-out dive to snag the ball just inches off
the grass for the final out.
”Two incredible plays. Very courageous dive, because if the
ball tips off his glove, the game’s over,” Rodriguez said.
Floyd took a three-hitter into the ninth but was pulled after
Derek Jeter led off with an infield single. Curtis Granderson
sacrificed against Matt Thornton, and Mark Teixeira worked a
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, still looking for a reliable
closer in his shaky bullpen, called on Sergio Santos for the second
consecutive night. He got two outs – thanks to Lillibridge – for
his second straight save and Chicago’s third in nine chances this
”I found my closer – Lillibridge,” Guillen said.
The last visiting pitcher to win at the old Yankee Stadium in
2008, Floyd (3-1) struck out a season-high 10 to win his second
straight start. He walked one and threw 102 pitches, sending the
White Sox to consecutive victories in New York for the first time
since August 2005.
Before arriving at Yankee Stadium, they had lost 10 of 11
Cano and Brett Gardner homered for the Yankees, held to three
singles by journeyman Phil Humber and two relievers during a 2-0
loss in the series opener Monday night. This time, they wasted a
strong start by rookie Ivan Nova, who left with a 2-1 lead after a
career-high 6 1-3 innings.
New York, now 18-5 following shutout losses since the start of
the 2008 season, has lost two in a row for the first time this
”I think we’ve had two poor days,” Rodriguez said. ”We ran
into a little bit of a wall the last two days. They’re throwing a
high percentage of breaking pitches the last two days and keeping
us off balance.”
David Robertson preserved New York’s narrow lead in the seventh,
but Soriano hit Carlos Quentin with a one-out pitch in the eighth
and Konerko sent his 371st career home run rocketing to left.
”Bad month,” Soriano said. ”I’ll take it and come back next
After saving an AL-best 45 games for Tampa Bay last year,
Soriano signed a $35 million, three-year contract with the Yankees
in January to be the bullpen bridge – and possible successor – to
star closer Mariano Rivera.
But the right-hander has a 7.84 ERA in 11 appearances and was
booed Tuesday night by the crowd of 40,785. He has given up nine
earned runs in 10 1-3 innings after yielding only 12 all last
”I still believe he’s going to be very, very good for us,”
Girardi said. ”I haven’t lost my confidence in Rafael Soriano.
”Tonight’s the best his velocity has been. He just made a
mistake to Konerko,” the manager added. ”Let’s not forget he
closed out 45 games last year in a tough division. I haven’t seen
anything that tells me he can’t handle New York.”
New York had three chances to retire Alex Rios in the fifth and
never did it.
Granderson was unable to make a shoestring catch on Rios’
line-drive single to center. Rios then stole second, catching a
break when Cano dropped a strong throw that could have been in
time. Finally, Rios slid home ahead of the throw from right fielder
Nick Swisher on Gordon Beckham’s RBI single.
Nova then retired Brent Morel and Juan Pierre to minimize the
damage. The right-hander, who beat Floyd 2-1 last August for his
first career win, allowed five hits in his first start since April
15. It was the longest of his 11 major league starts.
NOTES: Yankees C Russell Martin was rested for only the second
time this season. His replacement, Gustavo Molina, made an
outstanding throw to cut down Alexei Ramirez trying to steal second
base in the first inning. With regular backup Francisco Cervelli
close to coming off the DL, Molina’s time on the big league roster
is probably running short. Martin grounded out as a pinch-hitter in
the eighth and remained in the game. … Slumping DH Jorge Posada
also was rested, with Rodriguez starting at DH and Eric Chavez
playing 3B. … An MRI on New York catching prospect Jesus Montero,
hit in the groin by a foul ball during a Triple-A game last
weekend, was negative.