Dye does it for Sox in win over Yanks

Dye does it for Sox in win over Yanks

CHICAGO -- The White Sox 6-5 win over the Yankees in 11 innings Tuesday still counts in the standings as only one victory. But it's an effort that could have positive ramifications lasting well beyond the postgame, on-field celebration.

At least, that's the hope emanating from the White Sox clubhouse.

"This game was huge," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen of his team's seventh win in its last 11 games. "It has been a little while since we did this."

"It's a sign of what we've done last year, and it's good to come up with a win like this against a great team," added White Sox right fielder Jermaine Dye of the White Sox improving to 7-4 in extra-inning games. "Hopefully, we will get some momentum from this."

Guillen's crew pulled out its 33rd come-from-behind win of 2006 courtesy of its powerful middle of the order. Paul Konerko (2-for-4) connected for a ninth-inning, leadoff home run (his 27th of the season) off of Mariano Rivera, the Yankees' almost impervious closer, to forge a 5-5 tie. The only other home run allowed by Rivera this season was Vernon Wells' walk-off blast on July 20 at the Rogers Centre.

Dye (3-for-5, two RBIs) delivered the game-winning shot, a single up the middle off Scott Proctor (4-3) that scored Tadahito Iguchi, who singled himself to start the 11th. Dye lined Proctor's offering back up the middle on the very next pitch after third baseman Alex Rodriguez was unable to complete a difficult play on a foul popup down the left-field line.

Giving a good hitter a second chance, as the Yankees did, puts the pitcher in a difficult situation. Giving Dye another opportunity with runners in scoring position, with the veteran carrying a .340 average in that exact scenario into the game, almost stands as a lethal mistake.

"I've been finding holes this year, but I don't even think about it," said Dye of his propensity for clutch hits. "I try to stick with my gameplan and try to hit it hard somewhere."

As spine-tingling as the conclusion was, it was the White Sox pitching standing first and foremost in this decision. Freddy Garcia set the tone by allowing three earned runs over seven innings, including home runs to Rodriguez and Craig Wilson, but yielded only two singles over his final 4 1/3 innings.

Bobby Jenks (3-3) finished the victory by working 2 2/3 innings, throwing a season-high 38 pitches while striking out four. Jenks stranded a runner in scoring position for the Yankees (66-43) in each of the three innings he pitched, and despite his high pitch count, the burly right-hander said he would be ready to go Wednesday if the situation dictated.

"I went 2 2/3 with [38] pitches and that's pretty good right there," Jenks said. "That's right at the pace where you want to be."

"The way he was throwing, dominating them, he was the best guy to have out there," added Guillen of Jenks. "I go with my best bullet."

Jenks didn't look to have much of a chance to even get in the game when Neal Cotts hit Jason Giambi with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth, forcing home the go-ahead run. But Konerko took Cotts off the hook with one swing of the bat.

Rivera entered the ninth with 30 saves in 32 career opportunities against the White Sox. The right-hander also picked up his 400th save against the White Sox at Yankee Stadium, with the Yankees completing the three-game sweep during the first series after the All-Star break.

On Tuesday, Konerko looked for a pitch out over the plate against Rivera and tried to put the ball in play on a 2-2 count. He came up with his fourth hit in 11 career at-bats against Rivera, and certainly his most important.

"I'm just saying, 'Don't strike out,' at that point," said Konerko, who moved into sole possession of sixth place on the franchise's extra-base hit list, with his second inning double giving him 443 and moving him past Carlton Fisk and Magglio Ordonez. "I was looking at one area, and if he threw it there, I could maybe put it in play. If he throws anything else, I'm probably done."

"If you leave the ball over the plate, those things are going to happen," Rivera added. "You have to make sure when you're going away that, if you're going to miss, you have to miss away. That didn't happen, and he put good wood on the ball."

Tuesday's thriller also gave the White Sox (66-45) sole possession of the American League Wild Card lead, holding a half-game advantage over Minnesota (66-46) and putting them one game up on the struggling Red Sox (65-46). Detroit's loss also pulled the South Siders back within nine of the American League Central's top spot.

Sure, it was just one win, following a formula the White Sox have employed many times over the past couple of highly successful years. But as they battle toward a second straight playoff spot, the players hope this is a victory that could spark a sustained run in the direction of the postseason.

"Regardless of how much we are down in the standings, you still have to work hard because you never know what could happen," Dye said. "It definitely helps with our confidence."

"We haven't had a game like that in a long time," Konerko added. "It was a real tight game, good pitching, clutch hitting and it came out with the right ending. Anytime you hit a home run off a Hall of Famer like that to tie up a game ... Hopefully that sparks us and gets us going in the right direction."

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