White Sox slide past Yanks

White Sox slide past Yanks

NEW YORK -- If there was any doubt concerning the 2005 White Sox being a championship-caliber team, then Wednesday afternoon's 2-1 victory in 10 innings over the Yankees should have silenced that final handful of critics.

It's not about the White Sox taking two of three from the Yankees, before crowds of close to 54,000 every day in the Bronx. At 74-39, and a new season-high 35 games over .500, the South Siders simply are the better of the two teams.

But their one-run victory Wednesday, improving the White Sox to 26-13 during games decided by the slimmest of margins, not only was a textbook effort for this first-place squad but also done in the manner in which many teams find success in the playoffs.

Freddy Garcia became the third straight White Sox starter to shut down the powerful Yankees (60-52), joining Orlando Hernandez and Jose Contreras in limiting Joe Torre's crew to three earned runs and 13 hits over 21 innings. The team with an American League-best 157 home runs cleared the fences only twice, both coming off the bat of Alex Rodriguez.

Derek Jeter finished 1-for-12 in the series, and the one hit was a questionable infield single. Gary Sheffield and Jason Giambi had one hit in nine at-bats apiece.

The White Sox didn't exactly mash the baseball off the Yankees' hurlers, winning the series by a combined total of 6-5. They did what they had to do, though, with the game on the line.

With the game tied at 1 in the top of the 10th and closer Mariano Rivera (5-3) in his second inning of work, Juan Uribe launched a one-out triple over the head of center fielder Bernie Williams. Scott Podsednik made an attempt to squeeze home Uribe, and barely kept the at-bat alive by fouling off the Rivera pitch tailing away.

After Rivera didn't get a call from home plate umpire Bruce Froemming on a pitch inches off the outside corner, Podsednik grounded the next offering to second baseman Robinson Cano, who was drawn in to prevent the go-ahead run from scoring. Cano's throw and catcher Jorge Posada's blocking of home plate were both just a split-second late to stop the sliding Uribe.

"We find a way to win and don't score any more than you have to," said White Sox center fielder Aaron Rowand with a smile over his team's paltry, but successful, offensive output.

The 10th-inning rally was made even more impressive by the fact that both Uribe and Podsednik struck out three times apiece earlier in the game against Yankees starter Aaron Small. Uribe also committed an error on Jeter's first-inning ground ball in the hole that led to an unearned run, the only run Garcia allowed over eight innings.

"I was trying to do something for the team," said Uribe through translator Ozzie Guillen Jr. of his ninth-inning at-bat against Rivera. "I was just trying to make contact, trying to get on base to help the team get a victory."

"It's crazy because Uribe can't hit a guy who throws junk. All of a sudden he gets to the best pitcher in the big leagues," added Guillen, with a smile of disbelief in regards to Uribe. "That's the reason I squeezed, because I think that's the only chance we get against Rivera. This guy has been outstanding."

So has Dustin Hermanson, Guillen's closer. In fact, Hermanson matched Rivera with his 30th save on Wednesday, making a winner out of Neal Cotts (4-0). The bottom of the 10th started with Cotts retiring Posada, but the left-hander exited after walking pinch-hitter Tino Martinez.

Hermanson, whose back was more than ready for action in a second straight game, struck out Jeter and induced a long fly ball from Cano to Rowand. The drive caused Rowand to move back about four or five steps on the run, but to quote White Sox television play-by-play announcer Ken "Hawk" Harrelson, it was a mere "can of corn" for this stellar defender.

For three games, Rowand ran down everything hit from gap to gap at Yankee Stadium, including a drive from Hideki Matsui to right-center to end the sixth.

"A lot of opportunities, you know," Rowand said. "It's nice when you get balls hit in areas you can actually catch them. There's a lot of room out there in the gaps in this park to run."

When Guillen was asked if Rowand could have caught the ball hit by Uribe over Williams' head, Guillen at first deferred to his friendship with Williams. When pressed, Guillen pointed out that Uribe's ball was crushed in the right spot.

"I'll say yes because I want my guy to win the Gold Glove," said Guillen with a laugh.

Chicago's magic number continues to dwindle closer and closer to an American League Central-clinching party, sitting at 37 with the Indians playing Wednesday night. The White Sox also improved to 6-1 during extra-inning games played on the road and a Major League-best 38-17 away from home.

Still not convinced by the White Sox's play? How about this little nugget of information? The White Sox scored off Rivera for the first time since June 24, 2000, the last time the South Siders reached the playoffs.

"Great baseball," said Guillen of the overall series in New York. "Poor hitting on our part. We didn't execute a couple of times that we should, and we've been doing that all year long.

"But our pitching staff did a great job, their pitching staff did a tremendous job. Whoever watched these games, this was baseball. This was exciting baseball."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.