Pierzynski comes through for White Sox
Clutch two-run double lifts South Siders to win in Bronx
NEW YORK -- For the first time in five visits to new Yankee Stadium, Ozzie Guillen could listen to Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York" and smile.
His club's 7-6 victory over the Yankees on Saturday afternoon certainly wasn't easy and it was far from a work of Major League art. The contest lasted three hours, 49 minutes and featured the visitors blowing a 5-1 lead in the sixth.
In a strange twist of fate, reliever Scott Linebrink (1-0), who allowed four runs in the sixth to put the Yankees (15-8) ahead by one, earned the victory. Linebrink was the beneficiary of a two-run White Sox rally in the top of the seventh against New York relievers David Robertson (0-2) and Damaso Marte, with A.J. Pierzynski's two-out, two-run double providing the margin of victory.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi actually walked Carlos Quentin intentionally to get to Pierzynski, bringing in the left-handed Marte to face the White Sox catcher. Pierzynski launched a 1-0 pitch over the head of left fielder Randy Winn, scoring Paul Konerko and Quentin.
"I was just looking for a pitch out over the plate to hit, and luckily he threw me a fastball over the plate and I hit it," said Pierzynski, whose 3-for-4 effort raised his average to .203. "That's the pitch I've been pulling a bit and stayed through it and hit it to left center."
"That was big for him," said Guillen of Pierzynski's clutch drive. "He started swinging at better pitches, that's what I see. Better pitches, more strikes and not chasing the pitches he's not supposed to chase."
Linebrink (one batter in the seventh), Randy Williams, J.J. Putz and Bobby Jenks (fifth save) combined to hold the Yankees to two baserunners over the final three innings. The game ended with Robinson Cano, one of baseball's hottest hitters, tapping back to Jenks following Alex Rodriguez's two-out single to right.
A number of interesting story lines played out leading up to the finish of this nearly four-hour affair. Javier Vazquez started for the Yankees against the team he pitched for from 2006-08, and was touched up for five runs on seven hits over three innings.
Vazquez also walked four, meaning the White Sox (10-14) had plenty of chances to put away the right-hander early. Guillen had talked about Vazquez not being a big game pitcher before his trade from Chicago to Atlanta, but the White Sox manager took no extra pleasure in watching his team get to Vazquez on Saturday.
"No, not really," Guillen said. "It don't matter who I beat, as long as we beat him. We know Javy has struggled and we are going to take advantage of that. I said that yesterday. Javy is not going to come here and hand it to us. It's a battle between two teams, not between a manager and a former player."
Career battles against Andruw Jones are ones Vazquez has lost consistently. Jones went deep in the first and third innings on Saturday, giving him eight home runs for the season and 396 for his career, tying him with Joe Carter for 49th place on the all-time list.
Jones also has seven home runs in 53 at-bats against Vazquez, who has a lofty 9.78 ERA this season.
"I'm working on everything -- my mechanics, the mental part of the game," said Vazquez of his struggles. "It's not fun. I'm not going through a good time right now."
"When you face a pitcher so many times, you get comfortable," Jones said. "If he lets you get comfortable, it's your advantage. He never made me uncomfortable. I was on his fastball and I was on his curveball. When you start feeling like that at the beginning of the game, that's a big plus for you."
Mark Kotsay also went deep off Vazquez, building up that 5-1 advantage for John Danks. The unbeaten left-hander exited with a 5-2 lead after five innings but threw 118 pitches and just 65 for strikes.
Danks' departure left the game in Linebrink's hands, the same Linebrink who carried a 1.13 ERA into this game and had yielded just three hits all season. Four hits later in the sixth, culminated by Nick Swisher's two-run, go-ahead home run, and Linebrink's ERA had risen to 5.00 and the lead was gone.
Swisher threw a fist pump into the air after his clout to right-center and held it there for a few seconds. The maneuver from the current Yankees and former White Sox outfielder didn't seem to bother the winning clubhouse, although Pierzynski countered with his own celebration at second following the game-winning double.
"Good for him, enjoy it," said Guillen, pointing out "that's how [he] is," and saying, "I wish he could do that for me. He was very bad for me."
"Swish and I get along fine and Swish hit the ball well and did what he did and it had nothing to do with Swisher," Pierzynski said. "Just a win."
More like a battle of endurance or a much-needed spark for a team sitting at 4-8 on the road and looking for any sort of push after a dismal first month. For this particular day, the music was Sinatra's "Chicago."
"At one point, I remember looking up at the scoreboard in the fifth inning and it was almost three, four o'clock," said Pierzynski with a laugh. "I remember thinking, 'We need to hurry this up. I got dinner reservations. Let's get this going.' But it was hot and nice to play a hot game where you could get a sweat going. It was fun."
"Big win today. Everyone kept battling," Jones said. "We kept coming back and we came out on top."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.