CHICAGO -- Among the many positive traits defining the American League Central-leading White Sox, their best quality might just be an ability to forget.
Yes, Robin Ventura's crew came back to Chicago carrying the bad aftertaste of a three-game sweep administered by the Royals at Kauffman Stadium. But after claiming a 7-3 victory over the Yankees before 24,247 at U.S. Cellular Field on Tuesday and maintaining a two-game advantage over the Tigers, the White Sox (67-55) proved once again their "focus on one game at a time" mantra is lived as much as it's repeated.
"It's one thing this team has been good at, from management on down," said White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who drove in a run with a second-inning sacrifice fly and added his fourth triple of the season in the eighth. "Putting what happened the day before, two days ago, behind us and just moving on and playing the game. It's all you can do as a player and as a coach."
"Everybody in here understands how to play the game," said White Sox center fielder and leadoff man Dewayne Wise, who set a career high with four hits. "We just go out there and try to play our best. We have a good staff here. Everybody gets along with each other. We just go out there and try and win ballgames."
Tuesday's win was courtesy of Francisco Liriano's resilience -- mirroring that of his team -- and one swing of the bat from Kevin Youkilis. With the game deadlocked at 2 in the fifth and Alexei Ramirez, Gordon Beckham and Wise on base, Youkilis launched a 1-0 pitch from Ivan Nova (11-7) for an opposite-field grand slam.
The third slam of Youkilis' career brought loud chants of "Youuuk" from the crowed and even earned him a curtain call. It was certainly received better than Youkilis' first grand slam this season, which also happened to take place at U.S. Cellular Field on April 26 and came off of current teammate Philip Humber while Youkilis was playing for the Red Sox.
Youkilis' 11th homer as part of the White Sox also gave him 33 RBIs in 46 games with the team.
"I was trying to drive the ball to the outfield, get a runner in," said Youkilis, who helped the White Sox record their 33rd comeback victory this season. "I was very fortunate it got over the fence."
"Today was a day where [Nova] made more mistakes than usual," Yankees catcher Russell Martin said. "Youkilis put a good swing. I didn't think it was going to go, but it kind of carries well over here. That was a big blow."
Liriano (5-10) benefited greatly from Youkilis' homer, but by the time Youkilis' fly ball drifted out to right, the southpaw had already settled down from a rocky first inning.
Derek Jeter launched the game's first pitch for his 12th homer, and the Yankees (72-51) scored twice in the first. But Liriano did not allow another run after his 31-pitch opening frame, which featured just 17 strikes and runners stranded at the corners. The lefty completed six innings, recording three walks and seven strikeouts.
"First pitch of the game, nothing I could do about that -- just tip my hat to him," Liriano said of Jeter. "After that, I was trying to overthrow my pitches and trying to be too fine to the plate, missing my spot, getting behind in the count too much. You want to go out there and give a chance for the team to win a ballgame, so that was what I was trying to do today -- not trying to do too much, just put some zeroes on the board."
"This team will make you use a lot of pitches," said Ventura, who used Jesse Crain, Matt Thornton and Brett Myers out of the bullpen to finish the victory. "He did battle through it and got sharper as the game went along. He just made pitches and at least got us to a point where we could go to the bullpen, and guys came in and did a good job."
Paul Konerko's 21st home run tied the game at 2 in the fourth, and Beckham added a two-out single to score Pierzynski with an insurance run in the eighth. Beating the Yankees for a second time in as many days improved the White Sox to 17-5 over their last 22 home games and clinched their first season series win over the Yankees since 2003.
Youkilis' connection seemed like a fitting path to victory on this night, considering the third baseman was hit by a questionable Joba Chamberlain pitch in the sixth inning of Monday's 9-6 win. Chamberlain had never hit Youkilis before but had previously thrown at Youkilis' head.
After Tuesday's game, Youkilis wanted no part of any analysis concerning the intent of the Chamberlain pitch. Chamberlain said postgame Monday that he was trying to throw a fastball in and wasn't trying to hit Youkilis, "especially with [Adam] Dunn coming up."
These potential individual battles are easily forgotten for a team trying to reach the playoffs and get past some weekend cobwebs.
"They don't have good memories," said Ventura of his squad. "The weekend was a rough weekend, but you come back in and play every day, and you realize it doesn't get any easier as you go along.
"So they've been pretty resilient about the way they go about their games, and they do a good job of going through it and trying to win today. From now on, they're thinking about tomorrow, so they're happy they won, but they're looking for tomorrow."