NEW YORK (AP) — Desperately trying to gain ground in the playoff hunt, the New York Yankees have no time to mess around. That means an early call to Mariano Rivera now and again.
Struggling ace CC Sabathia pitched effectively into the eighth inning before Rivera earned his first four-out save in more than two years, helping New York hold off the Chicago White Sox 6-5 on Wednesday night for a three-game sweep.
"There are some situations that I have to do it. Tonight was one of those nights," Rivera said. "We had a lead and had to hold it. We need to do whatever it takes. Two outs, three outs, four outs — whatever it takes."
Robinson Cano homered for the Yankees, looking to chase down a playoff berth with their late-season charge. Brett Gardner hit a two-run triple and Lyle Overbay an RBI double in a four-run fourth against Erik Johnson (0-1), who was making his major league debut.
New York, which entered 2½ games behind Tampa Bay for the second AL wild card, has won 15 of 18 home games and 17 of 24 overall. Swept in three games at Chicago from Aug. 5-7, the Yankees returned the favor a month later.
Next up for New York, an 11-game gauntlet against division rivals Boston and Baltimore — beginning Thursday night with a four-game set against the first-place Red Sox.
After winning 10 of 12, the last-place White Sox have lost six straight to start a 10-game trip against AL East contenders.
Cano finished with three hits and two RBIs.
With the Yankees leading 6-1 and seemingly in control, Sabathia (13-11) walked off to a warm ovation with two on and one out in the eighth. But normally reliable setup man David Robertson gave up an RBI single to Avisail Garcia, a two-run single to Josh Phegley with two outs and an RBI single to rookie Marcus Semien that cut the cushion to one.
Well aware of his team's precarious position in the pennant race, manager Joe Girardi quickly went to Rivera, who threw a called third strike past Alejandro De Aza to end the inning.
Rivera then got three quick outs in the ninth for his second save in two nights and 41st this season in 46 tries. It was his first save of more than three outs since July 24, 2011, against Oakland.
"I feel he's capable of doing it," Girardi said. "I brought Robertson in for four outs the other night, as well. As much as I can do it, and they're able, I will do it."
Baseball's career saves leader with 649, Rivera missed most of last season with a knee injury.
The only other time in 55 appearances this season the 43-year-old closer pitched more than one inning was when he blew a save Aug. 7 against the White Sox and wound up getting six outs.
Cut pounds of stomach fat every week by using this 1 weird old tip.