Danks gave up eight earned runs on six hits over 4 1/3 innings, matching his career high for runs allowed. Three of the game's seven home runs were hit against the left-hander, who took full responsibility for Saturday's White Sox setback.
"There's really nothing to do but take full responsibility for this one," said Danks, who dropped to 1-2 with a 5.08 ERA in his last six starts. "For lack of a better word, I flat out [stunk].
"It [stinks] that there were [38,000]-plus here and paid a lot of money to see this game and it was supposed to be a fun game and from the get-go, it was playing catchup. You just have to move on I guess."
The night started badly for Danks, as Nick Swisher hit a mistake pitch for a two-run home run just two batters in. Matters simply grew worse.
Eduardo Nunez, who finished with three hits, launched his first career home run in the second, a two-run shot coming after Danks had fanned Jorge Posada and Austin Kearns. Danks allowed Marcus Thames' two-run blast in the third, his first of two long balls on the night, during another rally that started with two outs.
"They scored like four runs with two outs and nobody on base," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen of the Yankees' production.
"He was kind of all over, you know?" said White Sox catcher Ramon Castro of Danks. "You don't get away with anything against hitters like these. Maybe another team, but not with that team. They're not going to miss too many."
The White Sox (70-59) did not go quietly against Sabathia (18-5), thanks to Paul Konerko and his four RBIs. He singled home Juan Pierre in the first inning and lofted his 32nd home run of the season out to left in the third, scoring Alexei Ramirez. When Andruw Jones crushed a two-run shot off Sabathia with nobody out in the fourth, the White Sox were back within one run at 6-5.
But Sabathia settled down, holding the White Sox hitless until his final inning of work in the seventh.
"When you score 12 runs, a lot of times you don't think the other club's going to get nine," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "But we got more than they did, and that's all that matters. You get the lead and you keep the lead."
"My changeup wasn't really doing anything," said Sabathia, explaining a primary reason for his streak of quality starts ending at 16, despite improving to 16-4 lifetime against the White Sox. "It was hard and it had too much of the plate."
Danks and Tony Pena couldn't make that slim margin hold steady, as the Yankees scored four in the fifth. Jorge Posada came through with a two-run, two-out double off Pena, on a long drive to right-center. Nunez singled home two runs to complete the inning, but it was the 1-2 smash from Posada that turned the fortunes of this game, according to Guillen.
"Tony Pena shouldn't have been in the game in the fifth inning. That's just the way it is," Danks said. "I need to be able to get us into the sixth, seventh, eighth inning. I was getting ahead of hitters, I was able to get them in counts where I could put them away, and I wasn't able to do it. I had plenty of good stuff, but just location was off."
Carlos Torres, who was called up before the game to take Erick Threets' roster spot after the southpaw's season-ending elbow injury, worked 3 1/3 innings and gave up just two earned runs, helped by strong ninth-inning relief from Lucas Harrell that kept the deficit at five.
That differential almost became manageable when Ramirez opened the ninth with his 15th home run. The White Sox actually brought the tying run to the plate in Mark Teahen and forced closer Mariano Rivera (26th save) in from the bullpen, but Rivera retired Teahen on a soft liner to second baseman Robinson Cano.
What was billed as a Saturday night battle between two of the best left-handers in all the American League, before the eighth sellout of the season, turned into a slugfest favoring the Yankees (79-50). Coupled with a 1-0 victory for Minnesota (75-55) in Seattle, the White Sox sit 4 1/2 back in the AL Central, with their elimination number at 29.
So, the comeback was nice, but it doesn't mean quite as much when the game results in a loss, with just 33 left to play.
"I'm not happy about the game because we lost," Guillen said. "I'm very satisfied the way we battled back and fight all the way through it."
"Whenever the last game is played, we need to have more wins than them," said Danks of the race with the Twins. "We have time, but we can't be playing like this. I'm taking full responsibility and I have to carry my load, but as a whole, we need to win more ball games."