CHICAGO (AP) — Nick Swisher is laughing again, and he had plenty of reasons for his big smile Sunday night.
Swisher hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the eighth inning and the New York Yankees routed the Chicago Cubs 10-4 in the finale of their first series at Wrigley Field in eight years.
“Just a total team effort today,” Swisher said.
Brett Gardner added his first career leadoff homer for the Yankees, who have won eight of 10 since they were swept by Boston in a three-game series at home. Swisher finished with four RBIs and Alex Rodriguez helped spark New York’s offense with three hits and a walk.
Another boisterous crowd packed Chicago’s longtime home for the third straight day, and there were more “Let’s go Yankees!” chants from pockets of New York fans, followed by the inevitable boos from the majority of the paid attendance of 41,828. The crowd for the rubber game brought the weekend total to 126,283, setting a Wrigley Field record for a three-game series.
“It’s a lot of fun. The atmosphere is great,” said Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia, who settled down after a rough start. “It’s always fun to come here to Wrigley.”
Alfonso Soriano hit his 14th homer and Aramis Ramirez had four hits for Chicago, which dropped the last two games of the series after winning four of five. Sean Marshall (3-2) pitched a perfect seventh, but failed to record an out in the eighth and was charged with two runs.
Soriano’s three-run shot off Sabathia (9-4) made it 4-1 in the third inning, but that was it for the Cubs.
“You play 27 outs for a reason and you’ve gotta keep the pressure on a club like that,” Chicago manager Mike Quade said. “We just weren’t able to cash in.”
Russell Martin had a tying sacrifice fly in the sixth for New York and Swisher hit a 2-0 pitch from Chris Carpenter deep into the bleachers in right to make it 7-4. The Father’s Day shot was Swisher’s first homer at the ballpark where his father, Steve, began his major league career in 1974.
“He’s my hero, my idol and to be able to give him this gift today, I guess, is just a great day,” Nick Swisher said.
Swisher went 3 for 5 and is batting .306 with five homers and 14 RBIs in his past 22 games after getting off to a sluggish start this season.
“Just really enjoying the game like I know how,” he said.
Sabathia allowed four runs and eight hits in seven innings, improving to 6-2 with a 2.62 ERA in eight road starts this season.
“He was making his pitches,” said Chicago’s Jeff Baker, who went 0 for 5 and drove in a run with a groundout. “Once it came crunch time, he made pitches. We were fortunate to get guys on early, we just couldn’t cash in with a big hit.”
David Robertson worked around two walks during a scoreless eighth and Jeff Marquez got Soriano to fly out with the bases loaded to end the game.
Randy Wells gave up four runs and five hits in six innings for Chicago, hurt by a costly fielding mistake by shortstop Starlin Castro in the fourth.
With one out and Rodriguez on first, Robinson Cano hit a dribbler in front of the plate. Catcher Geovany Soto pounced on the ball and threw to second, but Castro took his foot off the bag early while trying to complete the double play and both runners were safe.
Swisher responded with a run-scoring single into right field, trimming Chicago’s lead to 4-2. After Martin walked, Eduardo Nunez drove in Cano with a groundout. Wells then got Sabathia to fly out to left to end the inning.
“I think the game was decided, as much as anything, in the fourth inning,” Quade said.
Soriano connected on a 1-1 pitch, hitting a drive to left for his second homer since he came off the disabled list Wednesday after being sidelined with a strained left quadriceps.
Soriano, who played for New York for five seasons before he was traded to Texas in the A-Rod deal, has six career homers against Sabathia, the most for any player against the Yankees ace.
Rodriguez added a run-scoring double in the Yankees’ three-run ninth and shrugged off a report on ESPNNewYork.com that he’s playing with a left shoulder injury.
“You go through regular bumps and bruises in a long season,” he said. “I think that’s just another small example of it. But for the most part, I feel pretty good.”
NOTES: Yankees RHP Phil Hughes (shoulder inflammation) struck out seven in a rehab appearance with Class A Staten Island, yielding one run and three hits in 4 1-3 innings. … Yankees manager Joe Girardi got up at 6 a.m. and drove two hours to visit his father, Jerry, just outside of Peoria. Girardi’s father suffers from Alzheimer’s. “Morning was very good. Better than I expected after what I had heard,” Girardi said. “His eyes were open. He was moving. He ate well, so it was all good.” … The Cubs and White Sox play for the first time this season on Monday night, opening a three-game series at U.S. Cellular Field. “I always look forward to these series but getting too high or low probably isn’t a good thing for us,” Quade said. … Castro fouled a ball off his left leg in the third but remained in the game after visiting with a trainer.