BY BEN WALKER
NEW YORK — On a night the New York Yankees honored one of their October greats, the big hit came from someone else with plenty of postseason success.
Carlos Beltran lined three-run homer off White Sox ace Chris Sale, leading Michael Pineda and the Yankees past Chicago 3-2 Thursday in their push for a playoff spot.
“I’m enjoying the moment because I’m getting good results,” Beltran said.
After a tribute to Yogi Berra in their first home game since the Hall of Famer died, the Yankees closed within three games of idle Toronto in the AL East. New York cut its magic number to six for clinching at least a wild-card berth.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said it was important to seal a slot soon so the team could see where “we’re going to be and what we need to do.”
Beltran gave the Yankees a boost to begin their final homestand of the season. He connected in the third inning for his 18th homer, a line drive that a young boy in the front row of the left-field seats neatly gloved.
After an awful April that saw him finish the month batting .162 with no home runs, the 38-year-old Beltran has gotten better and better. Girardi said he figured Beltran’s time would come.
“I knew it would be a long year and that we’d really need him,” Girardi said.
Pineda (12-8) gave up one run, on Trayce Thompson’s homer, in six innings. He improved the best strikeout-to-walk ratio in the AL, fanning six without a free pass.
Pineda is 3-0 in his last five starts, a nice recovery after missing a month because of a strained right forearm.
Girardi again went to All-Star setup man Dellin Betances to lock down the seventh. Betances entered with two on and two outs, but walked Melky Cabrera and Thompson to force home a run before striking out Adam LaRoche.
Betances has been more wild as of late, though Girardi didn’t sound too worried.
“All pitchers can get a little out of whack,” he said, adding that fatigue is a factor for a lot of pitchers late in a season.
Andrew Miller pitched the ninth for his 35th save in 37 chances, sending Chicago to its third straight loss.
Sale (12-11) fell to 0-4 in his last six starts. A Yankees lineup minus lefties Brian McCann and Brett Gardner got seven hits in seven innings against the lefty. Sale walked one and hit a batter, and both led to Beltran’s homer.
“Talk about a professional hitter. A guy who’s year in and year out one of the best in the game. He just continues to be great,” Sale said.
Sale struck out eight, moving within two of tying the White Sox record of 269 in a season set by Ed Walsh in 1908. Sale is second in the majors in strikeouts this year, trailing only Clayton Kershaw’s 281 for the Dodgers.
Jacoby Ellsbury was hit by a pitch opening the third and stole the 300th base of his career. He was called out for interference when he didn’t get out of the way of shortstop Alexei Ramirez on Chase Headley’s popup near second base.
Alex Rodriguez then walked, and scored his 2,000th career run on Beltran’s homer.
Berra, who died Tuesday at 90, was honored during a 10-minute pregame ceremony that included a moment of silence. The flags at Yankee Stadium were at half-staff and Girardi, a former Yankees catcher, and New York’s three current catchers put a wreath of blue and white flowers in the shape of Berra’s No. 8 in the catcher’s box.
White Sox: 3B Mike Olt was out of the lineup, a day after leaving the game with discomfort in his right shoulder. He’s day to day.
Yankees: RHP Masahiro Tanaka got a “good update” from a doctor about his injured right hamstring, Girardi said. Tanaka, who missed his last scheduled start, could throw a bullpen session Friday and then start early next week. Girardi says it’s too early to talk about whether Tanaka would start in the AL wild-card game, if the Yankees reach that matchup.
White Sox: Rookie LHP Carlos Rondon (8-6, 3.78) tries to make up for his only other start vs. the Yankees, when they scored eight runs on eight hits and four walks in three innings against him July 31.
Yankees: LHP CC Sabathia (5-9, 4.80) is 19-4 vs. the White Sox, matching his win totals over the Tigers and Royals for his most against one opponent. He ended a nine-game winless skid overall in his last start when he beat the Mets.
Betances became the fourth different pitcher in the last four seasons to reach 35 saves. David Robertson had 39 last year before joining the White Sox, Mariano Rivera had 44 in 2013 and Rafael Soriano got 42 in 2012.