Nunez's hit caps 5-run 8th, Yanks rally to win 6-4
Down by three against an All-Star pitcher who's had their number in the past, the New York Yankees put together a vintage comeback that kept them on track in the playoff chase.
Eduardo Nunez's two-run double capped a five-run eighth inning that rallied New York past the Chicago White Sox 6-4 on Tuesday night for its 12th victory in 14 home games.
Derek Jeter got the Yankees started - just like old times - and pinch-hitter Curtis Granderson tied the score with an RBI single. New York, which began the day 2 1/2 games out of an AL wild-card spot, has won 16 of 23 overall.
''It's a great win for us,'' manager Joe Girardi said. ''We're trying to gain ground on teams, and every game is important.''
Alexei Ramirez hit a two-run triple and Alejandro De Aza homered to build a three-run lead for ace Chris Sale, but the last-place White Sox couldn't hold it. They dropped their fifth straight to start a 10-game trip against AL East contenders.
Sale was cruising along with a 4-1 cushion until Jeter singled with one out in the eighth. Robinson Cano drove a 1-2 pitch off the left-field fence for a double - the third extra-base hit off Sale by a left-handed batter all season.
''Just left a bad pitch to a great hitter and that's what happens,'' Sale said. ''I'm honestly lucky that the ball didn't leave the park, as hard as he hit it.''
That got the crowd back in it and took Sale out of the game - which was great news for the Yankees. The left-hander entered 2-0 with a 0.49 ERA and 24 strikeouts in two career starts against them, and was working on another gem until the eighth.
Alfonso Soriano grounded an 0-2 delivery from Nate Jones (4-5) up the middle for a two-run single that cut it to 4-3. Alex Rodriguez's single put runners at the corners, and Granderson lined a tying single off left-hander Donnie Veal.
''I think the big thing was, let's just see if we can get a couple on and go from there,'' Granderson said. ''Things just slowly started to chip away, and we were able to get Nunez up there to get a big hit and put us on top.''
Mark Reynolds struck out before Nunez roped a double off Matt Lindstrom into the left-field corner, putting New York ahead 6-4 in a half-inning that lasted 32 minutes.
''It was a 95 mph two-seam fastball that was 3 inches off the inside corner. I don't know how he kept it fair. He swung the bat vertically,'' Lindstrom said. ''I don't know if they were picking up our signs or what. ... It didn't go our way to say the least, but I made my pitch and it makes you wonder sometimes.''
Four of New York's six hits in the inning came from players who spent long stretches on the disabled list this season: Jeter, Rodriguez, Granderson and Nunez.
Boone Logan (5-2) pitched a perfect eighth, and Mariano Rivera struck out two of his three batters to reach 40 saves for the ninth time. That ties Trevor Hoffman for the major league record.
Jeter had two hits, giving him 3,315 to move ahead of Eddie Collins (3,313) for ninth on the career list.
''It's pretty amazing what he's accomplished,'' Girardi said.
De Aza hit his 15th homer in the seventh, making it 4-1 and chasing Hiroki Kuroda.
The 38-year-old righty, who had been hit hard in three straight losses on the road, gave up seven hits in 6 1-3 innings against the American League's lowest-scoring team. He struck out seven and walked two.
Gordon Beckham doubled in the first inning and scored on Adam Dunn's single. Chicago was set up with the bases loaded and one out, but Kuroda fanned Avisail Garcia and got Conor Gillaspie to chase a full-count fastball that was up around his eyes.
New York tied it with an unearned run in the second after a pair of White Sox errors.
Vernon Wells reached on an infield single and scored on the front end of a double steal. With runners at the corners and two outs, Nunez took off for second and stopped in the middle of the basepath when catcher Josh Phegley threw down.
Wells slid in feet first ahead of a wide return throw from Beckham.
NOTES: After the game, Girardi said struggling RHP Phil Hughes will be moved to the bullpen. LHP David Huff will start Saturday against Boston. ... White Sox RHP Erik Johnson will start Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium, his major league debut. CC Sabathia (12-11, 4.91 ERA) pitches for New York. ... Jeter was hit by a pitch in the lower left leg his first time up but waved off trainer Steve Donohue. ... Granderson and Ichiro Suzuki were rested against Sale. Coming into the game, he had held left-handed hitters to a .140 average with 42 strikeouts in 129 at-bats this season.