NEW YORK — Chris Sale was cruising along toward his latest gem against the New York Yankees. The only thing he failed to do was finish them off.
Eduardo Nunez’s two-run double capped a five-run eighth inning that rallied the Yankees past Sale and the Chicago White Sox 6-4 on Tuesday night for a crucial victory as they chase an AL playoff berth.
Derek Jeter got the Yankees started on their vintage comeback, and pinch-hitter Curtis Granderson tied the score with an RBI single. New York, which began the day 2 1/2 games out of a wild-card spot, has won 12 of 14 home games and 16 of 23 overall.
“It was just one of those where you’ve got to kind of tip your hat to the Yankees. We didn’t walk guys or make errors,” Chicago first baseman Paul Konerko said. “They hit their way back into that game and won it. It’s that simple.”
Alexei Ramirez had a two-run triple and Alejandro De Aza homered to build a three-run lead for 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 had a 4-1 cushion when Jeter singled with one out in the eighth. Robinson Cano drove a 1-2 pitch off the left-field fence for a double – only 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 masterpiece 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.
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.”
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,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
De Aza hit his 15th homer in the seventh, making it 4-1 and chasing starter 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: One day after the season ended for Triple-A Charlotte, the White Sox called up RHP Erik Johnson, RHP Daniel Webb, C Miguel Gonzalez and INF Marcus Semien. … The 23-year-old Johnson will start Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium, his major league debut. CC Sabathia (12-11, 4.91 ERA) pitches for New York. Drafted in the second round two years ago out of California, Johnson went 12-3 with a 1.96 ERA in 24 starts combined at Charlotte and Double-A Birmingham this season. … Chicago manager Robin Ventura said the team is likely to go with a “modified” six-man rotation the rest of the way, depending on how Johnson does. The idea is to keep the starters fresh and take a look at youngsters. … White Sox LHP Jose Quintana, pulled after a long rain delay Monday, is scheduled to start again Thursday night in Baltimore. Quintana threw only 20 pitches Monday and still took the loss. LHP Hector Santiago was pushed back to Saturday.