CHICAGO – The White Sox have learned to live and die by home runs.
Their offense, struggling to advance runners, connected for four home runs in a 9-6 comeback win Monday against the New York Yankees.
None were bigger than shortstop Alexei Ramirez’s two-out, two-run homer in the seventh inning that broke a 6-6 tie. Ramirez crushed a 3-2 pitch from lefty reliever Boone Logan into the left-field seats for his seventh homer of the season.
"I wasn’t looking for anything," Ramirez said through a translator. "It was 3-2. I swung on what I thought was a strike and it just happened that way."
The Sox have hit 24 home runs in their past 11 games, and their 35 homers in August lead the majors.
Closer Addison Reed picked up his 22nd save of the season to set a rookie franchise record.
The Sox (66-55) snapped a six-game home losing streak against the Yankees during which they were outscored 48-21. Neither manager was afraid to go to his bullpen; the Sox and Yankees used a combined 11 pitchers. With the Detroit Tigers off Monday, the Sox extended their lead in the AL Central to two games.
"I give a lot of credit to our offense, especially after this last weekend and what we went through," manager Robin Ventura said.
It was a gut-punch loss for the Yankees, who are trying to hold off the surging Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East. They led 3-0 after two innings, putting starter Gavin Floyd and the Sox on the ropes, but as the Sox have shown often this season, the offense refused to quit. A five-run fifth inning, sparked by controversy, gave the Sox a 5-3 lead.
The Sox’s rally was nearly killed before it started. Ramirez appeared to double down the left-field line to lead off the fifth, his hard chopper ruled fair by third base umpire Bill Welke. Yankees manager Joe Girardi disagreed with the call, and after the umpire crew conferred, Ramirez’s double was overturned. He struck out on the next pitch.
Home plate umpire Tim Tschida told Ventura he saw the ball go foul.
"That’s baseball," Ramirez said. "The calls will go your way in certain instances, and I just had to take it in stride. Fortunately I was able to hit the home run, and more importantly we won the game, that’s the most important thing of all."
However, the Sox’s one pitch, one play mentality paid off. Gordon Beckham followed the strikeout with a single, and Dewayne Wise punished the team that released him, hitting a two-run homer off Freddy Garcia. Wise has been an offensive machine since joining the Sox. He has driven in nine runs in eight games, and his home run pulled the Sox within 3-2 of New York.
"I mean I’m not going to lie, when you play against a former team you obviously want to go out there and try and do well," Wise said. "The most important thing is that we got the win."
The Yankees (72-50) did not back down, scoring three runs the next inning punctuated by a Derek Jeter home run. Jeter finished 4 for 5, falling a triple shy of the cycle, and moved into a tie with Eddie Murray for 11th on the all-time hits list (3,255).
Floyd still hasn’t solved his early inning issues. He lasted 2 1/3 innings – matching his shortest outing since Aug. 3, 2011, which also was against the Yankees – and walked four batters, hit another and struck out one. Although he only allowed three runs, Floyd’s ineffectiveness and inability to throw strikes ultimately forced Ventura to call on reliever Hector Santiago.
"I didn't pitch the way I wanted to pitch," Floyd said. "I didn't feel like I could throw consistently strikes. I was trying to be too perfect and just stunk today, just didn't go out there and attack like I wanted to."
Floyd, who earned a no decision, did not hide his displeasure at his performance. He kicked what appeared to be a bucket in the dugout after Ventura lifted him from the game and tried to kick another object before heading into the clubhouse. Floyd said his outburst stemmed from being frustrated that he did not attack the strike zone and pitch like he wanted.
Ventura was not surprised by Floyd's outburst.
"He's going to be frustrated," Ventura said. "He's a competitor and you expect that kind of stuff. He cares, and that's fine."
Santiago, in his longest outing since being recalled from Triple-A on Friday, cruised through his first two innings. He did not allow a run on two hits and turned a nifty double play on a comebacker to end the fourth. The Yankees finally got to him in the sixth, tagging Santiago for three runs aided by two wild pitches.
Adam Dunn’s eighth-inning solo home run gave the Sox an insurance run and a 9-6 lead. His 36 home runs lead the majors and are the second most in franchise history by a left-handed hitter.
"I think it shows the resiliency of this team," Dunn said. "Obviously tonight wasn't looking good. We had some opportunities early to drive some runs in and we didn't and fell behind. We just kept battling and battling."