A pinch-hit home run by rookie Andrew Vaughn against closer Aroldis Chapman, on what manager Tony La Russa called ‘‘an absolutely perfect swing’’ in the ninth inning Sunday at Yankee Stadium, tied the score and lit up the White Sox’ dugout.
And why shouldn’t it have? It was one of the most dramatic moments of the season and gave the Sox a chance to avoid getting swept by one of the hottest teams in the majors.
Carlos Rodon’s 13 strikeouts in six scoreless innings Friday and Jose Abreu’s and Yasmani Grandal’s homers earlier Sunday notwithstanding, it had been a far-from-perfect three-game series for the Sox against the Yankees.
Left-hander Dallas Keuchel only could get through four-plus innings in the series finale, and errors by Keuchel and shortstop Tim Anderson gave the Yankees three unearned runs.
But for just a hot minute on a steamy May afternoon in New York, Vaughn’s improbable blast against Chapman, who hadn’t allowed an earned run or blown a save this season, gave the Sox a chance at a happy ending to their road trip.
Then came the bottom of the ninth, which ended badly on closer Liam Hendriks’ five-pitch walk to Aaron Judge with the bases loaded. That gave the Yankees a 5-4 victory and a sweep that left the Sox with a 2-4 road trip.
Choosing to continue with left-hander Aaron Bummer (0-3) rather than give Hendriks a clean inning in the ninth, La Russa watched Bummer allow a leadoff single to Clint Frazier, who then stole second as Brett Gardner struck out. DJ LeMahieu was walked intentionally, and when Tyler Wade’s dribbler to the right side of the infield went for a single, the bases were loaded for Judge.
Hendriks got Judge to swing at the first pitch at eye level, then threw four consecutive balls — none of them even close to a strike — to complete the walk-off loss.
‘‘We liked the matchups in the ninth inning,’’ La Russa said, explaining why Hendriks didn’t start the inning in a tie game. ‘‘And the other thing, you still have to think at some point you may need Liam for more [for a possible 10th inning].
‘‘The toughest break was [Wade’s infield hit].’’
It was the Yankees’ fourth walk-off victory in their last five home games, including two against the Sox, and their sixth triumph in a row. Jameson Taillon pitched five innings of two-hit ball to extend the scoreless streak by Yankees starters to 35 innings, matching a string in 1947 for the second-longest in franchise history.
The Yankees are 23-9 since a 5-10 start, and the Sox are 26-19 after losing three games in a row for the first time this season. The Sox grounded into two double plays after hitting into four in a 7-0 loss Saturday to Yankees ace Gerrit Cole.
Vaughn’s blast came after he hit into a crushing triple play against Chapman in the Sox’ 2-1 loss Friday.
‘‘Yeah, I mean, he’s got one of the best fastballs in the game,’’ said Vaughn, who pointed to the Sox’ bullpen as he sprinted around the bases. ‘‘It gets on you, and you’ve got to get on top of it and put a good swing on it.’’
The Sox already are thinking about playing the Yankees in the postseason.
‘‘Come playoff time, we can hopefully come back,’’ Keuchel said. ‘‘We’ll have a little bit of grit underneath us and more experience.’’
The Sox noted a ‘‘playoff atmosphere,’’ said Vaughn, who chalked up the sweep as something to build on.
‘‘[But] losing is never fun,’’ he said. ‘‘Losing stinks. Definitely not a good feeling, but we get to come at this thing tomorrow. It’s why baseball is so great: It comes right back at you. Get on the plane, get home, get some sleep and be at the ballyard tomorrow.’’