NEW YORK (AP) — With the bases loaded and a favorable count in the third inning, Nick Swisher had one thing on his mind: home run.
He took a a big swing and hit a meek foul ball before walking for his first of four RBIs in the New York Yankees’ 12-3 win over the Chicago White Sox on Thursday night.
“I definitely had been worrying about that first home run. I had been trying a lot that last week,” Swisher said. “I just wanted to get that monkey off my back.”
In the seventh inning, after a couple of slump-busting hits, Swisher drove a pitch into the right field seats for that long-awaited clout, a two-run shot, with a controlled easy swing. The drive ended his career-worst 75 at-bat streak without a home run, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“I think they really started eating at me, especially when Gardy started going deep,” Swisher said of speedy Brett Gardner.
Gardner went deep again for the Yankees — his third in six games — leading off a six-run fifth inning with a homer for their first hit of the game.
CC Sabathia (2-1) pitched seven sharp innings to beat a familiar foe and help New York gain a split of the four-game series. Swisher, Nunez and Gardner scored three runs apiece. Every Yankees starter except Nunez had at least one RBI.
“It’s nice watching Gardy lead off with a homer and he gets back up without us getting an out,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Curtis Granderson tripled, Alex Rodriguez and Nunez each hit a double, and Swisher broke an 0-for-19 slump with a single in the fifth. New York sent nine batters to the plate before making an out in the inning.
The White Sox never awoke from their hitting slumber in this series but won the first two games thanks to solid starting pitching. Chicago heads home after a 3-8 road trip in which it scored more than three runs in only one game.
“It’s been a bad couple of weeks,” White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko said. “It’s been bad up to this point as a whole this season, but that doesn’t mean tomorrow has to be (the same way). It’s way too early to get discouraged or to say, ‘OK, this is the team for the season.”‘
With Derek Jeter getting a planned day off and Mark Teixeira out with a sore shoulder, the Yankees struggled against Edwin Jackson (2-3) through the first four innings. But they did score twice in the third when Jackson walked four and threw a wild pitch as a light drizzle fell at Yankee Stadium. Robinson Cano, moved to third from fifth in the lineup, hit a sacrifice fly for a 2-0 lead.
Sabathia improved to 17-4 against the White Sox in 30 career starts, a team he faced often with Cleveland in the AL Central. He is one of two pitchers in big league history who has at least 25 starts and four or fewer losses against Chicago, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Filling in at shortstop, Nunez made two errors, a fielding mistake to start the game and a throwing miscue that led to three unearned runs in the seventh.
Sabathia gave up seven hits and no earned runs. He struck out six and walked one. He got out of a first-and-third jam with no outs in the first and stranded four runners in the first two innings.
“I thought that’s the difference in the ballgame,” Girardi said.
On Monday, Phil Humber held New York hitless into the seventh, and the Yankees had scored just five runs in the first three games of the series.
That all changed in the fifth.
Gardner led off with a homer. Nunez hit a liner to left field that Brent Lillibridge, Tuesday’s star for making two acrobatic, game-saving catches in the ninth, took a step in on. The ball deflected off his glove as he slipped on the slick grass for a double. Granderson followed with a triple and Swisher had an RBI single.
Jackson was done, having given up four hits and six runs in four-plus innings. He walked a season-high five.
“No strikes,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. “You can get away so much when you don’t find the strike zone, but when you face a lineup like this, you don’t get away with that.”
Tony Pena relieved and gave up a single to Cano. Rodriguez followed with a run-scoring double off the wall. A-Rod stood on second, hands on hips, watching the replay of his drive. Eric Chavez was intentionally walked ahead of Russell Martin’s RBI hit and Jorge Posada’s bases-loaded walk.
Pena left with discomfort in his right elbow and Will Ohman retired three straight to end the 32-minute inning.
“It’s unbelievable for those guys to be patient and have good at-bats,” Sabathia said. “I’ll wait all night.”
NOTES: Teixeira said he received treatment and is planning to play Friday. … White Sox RHP Jake Peavy is scheduled to make a rehabilitation start for Triple-A Charlotte on Friday. His outing in Double-A on April 18 was cut short because of discomfort in his surgically repaired right shoulder. … The White Sox will unveil a plaque to commemorate the “Hawk Harrelson Broadcast Level” at U.S. Cellular Field. Harrelson is in his 26th season as a White Sox broadcaster. … George Pipgras was 19-4 against the White Sox in 28 career starts, according to Elias.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)