NEW YORK (AP) — Four games back with nine to play. For pitcher CC Sabathia and the New York Yankees, a wild card appears to be their ticket to October.
Sabathia gave up two costly homers in the seventh inning and prized rookie Carlos Rodon pitched out of trouble all night as the Chicago White Sox damaged New York’s playoff drive Friday with a 5-2 victory over the Yankees.
Mike Olt hit a tiebreaking shot off Sabathia that soared into the second deck in left field. One out later, No. 9 batter Gordon Beckham made it 4-2 with his sixth home run of the season.
“I have to be better, especially late in the game,” Sabathia said.
New York still has a firm hold on the top AL wild-card spot, but the Yankees fell four games behind first-place Toronto in the AL East after the Blue Jays beat Tampa Bay.
“I said it was going to be really difficult and my mind hasn’t changed,” manager Joe Girardi said. “They’ve played extremely well since Aug. 1, and you look at what they’ve done, but we’re going to try to win every game and see what happens.”
New York grounded into four double plays, which helped Rodon (9-6) overcome five walks and two hit batters in winning his third consecutive start. The left-hander bounced back nicely from a wretched outing at home against the Yankees on July 31, when he yielded eight runs and eight hits in three innings.
“Part of that was they waited him out, and I think he learned something that night,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “When he came back for his next start, it was obvious he had a different approach.”
Pitching with a brace on his arthritic right knee, Sabathia (5-10) has been more effective since returning from the disabled list Sept. 9. He fell behind early but kept the Yankees close until they tied it on a two-run single by Didi Gregorius in the fourth.
New York then loaded the bases, but Chase Headley grounded into an inning-ending double play.
“That was huge,” Rodon said.
Rookie right fielder Trayce Thompson aided Rodon earlier in the inning when he robbed Greg Bird of extra bases with an athletic running catch.
With two on in the sixth, speedy Brett Gardner grounded into an inning-ending double play.
“Double plays,” Girardi lamented. “A couple important ones with runners in scoring position and that was the biggest problem.”
The 22-year-old Rodon is 5-2 with a 1.81 ERA in his last eight starts — and this was probably his season finale, Ventura said. Drafted third overall last year out of North Carolina State, Rodon maintained his poise through six innings during his first appearance at Yankee Stadium.
“He didn’t have his best control, but he learned how to get through it with a professional lineup,” Ventura said.
Adam Eaton added an RBI single in the ninth off Chasen Shreve.
Zach Duke tossed 1 1-3 hitless innings and ex-Yankees closer David Robertson got three straight outs for his 32nd save in 39 chances. It was Robertson’s first outing against New York since signing a $46 million, four-year contract with the White Sox in December.
Robertson came out of the bullpen on the anniversary of his previous appearance at Yankee Stadium — when he blew a 5-2 lead in the ninth inning against Baltimore. That failure set the stage for Derek Jeter’s game-winning single in the final home game of his illustrious career.
Alexei Ramirez hit an RBI double off Sabathia in the second, and Avisail Garcia had a run-scoring single in the third.
Chicago stopped its three-game skid and a nine-game losing streak at Yankee Stadium with its first victory in the Bronx since June 29, 2012.
Sabathia dropped to 19-5 in 34 starts versus the White Sox. He had been 5-0 against them with the Yankees, but hadn’t faced Chicago since September 2013.
Olt was back at third base after sitting out Thursday night with a sore right shoulder. He grew up in nearby Connecticut and said his parents were sitting in the upper deck on the third base side with about 20 friends and family members.
White Sox: 2B Micah Johnson was out of the lineup for the fourth consecutive day. He’s been nursing some nagging knee discomfort, Ventura said. … Ace lefty Chris Sale will get one more start next Thursday or Friday and rookie RHP Frankie Montas probably will make one more as well, Ventura said.
Yankees: CF Jacoby Ellsbury was rested against the left-hander and will return to the lineup Saturday, Girardi said. … Gardner was checked by a trainer after getting hit with a pitch on the left forearm. He stayed in the game.
White Sox: LHP John Danks (7-13) gets the ball Saturday. He is 3-3 with a 5.19 ERA against the Yankees.
Yankees: RHP Adam Warren (6-7) is 3-1 with a 2.21 ERA in six starts at home this season.