Tagged: Starlin Castro

Triple-A Subs Help Yankees Rally Past Cubs In 13

GAME 45

YANKEES 4, CUBS 2 (13 INNINGS)

When a baseball team suffers through a spate of injuries it has to rely a great deal on its players from Triple A to fill in for those injured players. Add to the fact that when a team is in a 13-inning game they up asking players to do things they never have done before.

That is exactly what happened at Wrigley Field on Wednesday and those former Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders came up big for the Yankees.

Pitcher Preston Claiborne set down a perfectly placed sacrifice bunt in his first major-league at-bat in the top of the 13th inning, Brendan Ryan scored the tie-breaking run on a wild pitch and John Ryan Murphy drove in an insurance run on a single as New York rallied for two runs in the ninth to tie it and scored two in the 13th to down Chicago.

Claiborne (2-0), who was recalled from Scranton for a second time this season on April 27 to fill a void in the bullpen, pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings of relief to earn the victory. David Robertson pitched a scoreless 13th frame to remain a perfect 9-for-9 in saves this season.

Former Yankee right-hander Jose Veras (0-1) took the loss.

Ryan, who entered the game as pinch-runner for Brian McCann and scored a run in the ninth, led off the 13th with a lined single to left off Veras. Yangervis Solarte then drew a walk to set the stage for Claiborne’s bunt.

The Yankees were out of position players and Robertson was only reliever left in the bullpen. That forced manager Joe Girardi into asking Claiborne, who had never had at-bat in major-league game, to put down a sacrifice bunt to advance Ryan and Solarte.

The Cubs, defending the bunt, actually put on the wheel play to cut down Ryan at third base, however, Claiborne’s bunt on the first pitch from Veras was deadened so much on the Wrigley Field turf that third baseman Luis Valbuena had only the play at first base.

While facing Murphy, who entered the game after Ryan pinch-ran for McCann in the ninth, Veras uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Ryan to score the tie-breaking run. Two pitches later Murphy, who was recalled from Scranton on April 15 when Francisco Cervelli was placed on the 60-day disabled list with a pulled right hamstring, laced a RBI single to right that scored Solarte.

Considering the effort of Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzjia, it is lucky that the Yankees were able to tie it in the ninth, much less win the game.

Samardzjia entered the game with a 1.62 ERA but was sporting an 0-4 record and a 15-start streak in which he had failed to win a game dating back to Aug. 24, 2013 victory over the Padres in San Diego.

He held the Yankees to just four hits and two walks while he struck out three in seven innings. That lowered his season ERA to National League-leading 1.46.

The Cubs, meanwhile, were able to push across a run in the fourth inning against right-hander Chase Whitley, who was recalled from Scranton on May 15 and who was making only his second major-league start.

Valbuena slapped a one-out single and Wellington Castillo followed with a single of his own. Then Nate Schierholtz slashed a liner off the glove of Mark Teixeira at first base for a single that loaded the bases.

Mike Olt scored Valbuena on a sacrifice fly.

Whitley left the game with one out in the fifth and Emilio Bonifacio on third with a leadoff triple. But right-hander Dellin Betances bailed him out of the inning by retiring Anthony Rizzo on a swinging strike and Starlin Castro on a flyout.

Whitley gave up on run on six hits and one walk along with three strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings. In his two starts since being called up as an emergency fifth starter, Whitley has yielded one run on eight hits and three walks and seven strikeouts in nine innings.

The Cubs added a run in the seventh inning off right-hander Adam Warren when pinch-hitter Ryan Kalish lined a one-out triple to right and Bonifacio scored him on a bunt single.

But the Yankees both ruined Samardzjia’s great outing and saved themselves a loss by scoring two runs with the help of an error by Darwin Barney, who had just entered the game at second base as part of a double switch in the top of the ninth.

Teixeira opened the inning with a single off right-hander Hector Rondon, the Cubs’ closer. McCann followed by drawing a walk and he was replaced by Ryan.

Solarte loaded the bases with an infield single and Ichiro Suzuki followed by hitting a grounder to Castro at short. Castro fed the ball to Barney to retire Solarte but Barney’s throw to first skipped past Rizzo at first base to allow both Teixeira and Ryan to score.

Because of the length of the game, thousands of Yankee fans and a majority of the sellout crowd of 34,808 saluted Derek Jeter with repeated standing ovations when he came to the plate. Jeter ended the day 1-for-7 with a single in the sixth in his final game at Wrigley Field.

“I was hoping the game wouldn’t take that long, but I told you, the way the fans have been treating me on the road this year. It’s been unbelievable,” Jeter told reporters after the game.

With the victory the Yankees split the two-game series at Wrigley but won the inter-league season series three games to one. Their season record improves to 24-21 and they are in a statistical tie with the Toronto Blue Jays for first place in the American League East, a half=game ahead of the third-place Baltimore Orioles.

The Cubs fell to 16-28.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Whitley certainly deserves another start after what he did against the Cubs on Wednesday. Girardi was pleased and only removed him in the fifth in favor of Betances with Bonifacio on third and Rizzo up because Girardi wanted a strikeout in the that situation. With Ivan Nova out for the season after Tommy John surgery and Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia on the disabled list, the 24-year-old right-hander is seizing a great opportunity after spending the past three seasons at Scranton.
  • Let’s also give credit to the bullpen for pitching 8 2/3 innings of one-run baseball. They allowed only five hits and three walks while striking out 12 batters. Despite the loss of setup man Shawn Kelley, who is on the DL with a lower-back strain, the team is getting help from Betances, Alfredo Aceves, Matt Daley, Matt Thornton, Warren, Claiborne and Robertson. Robertson is certainly settling in replacing the legendary Mariano Rivera.
  • Give Murphy, 22, credit for staying sharp with the bat despite getting limited playing time behind the perennial All-Star McCann. With Murphy’s single in the 13th he has raised his season average to .406. He is 13-for-32 with a home run and six RBIs. He is making Austin Romine and Cervelli irrelevant to the Yankees future plans as long as he continues to play this well.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • It is clear that Samardzjia is a good pitcher but the Yankees can not be happy that they played the weak-hitting Cubs for 17 innings heading into the ninth inning on Wednesday and they managed to score just a single run on 10 hits. The acquisitions of Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury and McCann were supposed to make the offense better than it was in 2013. But those three, so far, are failing to provide much. Ellsbury singled in the 10th and the 12th innings to snap a 1-for-27 slump and he only has one home run all season.

BOMBER BANTER

More bad news on the injury front. Kelley, 30, had his rehab placed on hold Wednesday due to a recurrence of his lower back pain. Kelley felt a twinge as he was playing catch on Monday and he was told to halt all baseball activities. Tests indicated no problems with the discs in his back. But plans for the right-hander to begin a minor-league rehab stint this weekend have been cancelled.

ON DECK

The Yankees stay in Chicago but their bus will head to U.S. Cellular Field on the south side of the city to open a four-game series with the White Sox beginning on Thursday.

Right-hander David Phelps (1-0, 3.33 ERA) will start for the Yankees coming off his best start of the season. Phelps shut out the Pirates on five hits and three walks in five innings on Friday. Though Phelps had command issues throughout his outing, he got out of jams and held the Bucs scoreless.

This is just how the Yankees’ season has gone. All-Star Chisox left-hander Chris Sale (3-0, 2.30 ERA) was not supposed to pitch in this series because he was on the 15-day disabled list with a left flexor muscle strain in his left elbow. However, after he fanned 11 batters in four innings in a rehab start last Friday, Sale was summoned to Chicago and he will be activated for Thursday’s game. Oh goody, goody!

Game-time will be 8:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast by the YES Network.

 

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Swish’s Swat Honors Father As Yanks Pound Cubs

GAME 70

YANKEES 10, CUBS 4

Nick Swisher never got a chance to see his father, Steve, play at Wrigley Field as a member of the Cubs. He was not born until three years after his father left the Cubs in 1977. But on this Father’s Day he paid homage to the former Cubs catcher by blasting a big home run for the Yankees against the Cubs at the hallowed Chicago venue in front of national television audience.

The younger Swisher smacked a three-run home run deep into the bleachers in right-center in the top of the eighth inning off right-hander Chris Carpenter to break a 4-4 tie and New York added three more runs in the ninth to finally show the upstart Cubs who was boss in their three-game weekend series.

Yankees ace left-hander CC Sabathia (9-4) won his sixth game in his last seven starts and is now tied with six other pitchers for the major-league lead in victories. But for Sabathia, this was not his best outing and he actually trailed the game 4-1 after giving up a three-run home run to former Yankee Rafael Soriano with two outs in the third inning.

Sabathia gave up four runs on eight hits and a walk and he fanned three batters in seven innings of work. Having trouble with command of his fastball, Sabathia adjusted to throw more breaking pitches and he only gave up two hits over the last four innings to get credit for the victory.

As they have so often, the Yankee offense got Sabathia back into the game. Brett Gardner led off the game with a home run off Cubs starter Randy Wells. But the Yankees struggled a bit with Wells before scoring two runs in the fourth and a single run in the sixth.

Swisher, who finished the night 3-for-5 with four RBIs, singled in Alex Rodriguez with one out in the fourth inning. Eduardo Nunez scored Robinson Cano two batters later on a bases-loaded fielder’s choice groundout to third. The two-run inning was set up on a mental error by Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro. After Rodriguez drew a one-out walk, Cano hit a sure groundball out to third baseman Aramis Ramirez. But Castro pulled his foot off the second-base bag before he caught the ball and Rodriguez and Cano both were ruled safe.

Two innings later, the Yankees tied the game. Rodriguez led off with a single. A groundout by Cano advanced Rodriguez to second and Swisher singled to move Rodriguez to third. After a Wells wild pitch advanced Swisher to second, Russell Martin launched a sacrifice fly to right to score Rodriguez.

The Yankees then seized control of the game in the eighth inning on Cubs lefty reliever Sean Marshall (3-2). Rodriguez opened the frame with a broken-bat single to left. Cano followed by lacing a single to right-center to advance Rodriguez to third.

Cubs manager Mike Quade elected to bring in the right-handed Carpenter to force Swisher to hit from his weaker side this season, the left side. However, Carpenter fell behind by sailing two straight pitches high and way outside. Carpenter then elected to throw a fastball in the middle of the plate and Swisher got all of it for his seventh home run of the season, giving the Yankees a 7-4 lead and sending a lot of the Cubs fans among the 41,828 in attendance home early.

With the victory, the Yankees have improved to 41-29 and they are a season-high 12 games over .500. They also remain 1 1/2 games in back of the first-place Boston Red Sox in the American League East. The Cubs, meanwhile, are heading in the opposite direction. They are now 29-42.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Swisher’s 3-for-5 night has him headed in the right direction with his batting average. He raised his batting average to .237. After hitting .225 in April and .200 in May, Swisher is hitting .309 in June with four home runs and 13 RBIs. He is now hitting .187 against right-handers with four home runs and 20 RBIs.
  • Rodriguez reached base every time up and was 3-for-4 with two singles, a double, a walk, scored three runs and drove in another. Rodriguez is now hitting .289 on the season with 13 home runs and 42 RBIs. Though he may not be hitting for as much power, Rodriguez is tearing up June with a .295 average.
  • Gardner was 3-for-5 with a double, a home run, scored two runs and drove in one. That means in the six games he and Swisher have shared the leadoff spot in place of the injured Derek Jeter they are a combined 10-for-23 (.435) with an on-base percentage of .552. Manager Joe Girardi might have a tough decision to make about the leadoff spot when Jeter returns.
  • Martin was showing no ill effects from his home-plate collision on Saturday with Carlos Pena and was 1-for-3 with a walk and had another bid for hit taken away from him in the ninth. Martin’s sac fly in the sixth tied the game and set the stage for the Yankees’ six-run explosion in the final two frames.
NAGGING NEGATIVES
  • Sabathia was fortunate to be able recover after a rocky beginning. He gave up four runs on six hits in the first and third innings, but he retired 12 of the last 13 hitters he faced to salvage a victory on a night when he did not have his best command. Sabathia is sixth in the American League in run support. The Yankees are averaging 7.89 runs a game for him.
  • Nunez was only the Yankee starter, except Sabathia, to not get a hit in the game. He was 0-for-3 with a walk but did drive in a run on a bases-loaded groundout in the fourth. It is only the second game in which he has started for Jeter at shortstop and he did not get a hit.
  • The Yankees called upon right-hander Jeff Marquez, 26, to pitch the ninth with a 10-4 lead. However, Marquez made it a Navy appearance — it was not just a job it was an adventure. First Marquez dropped a Mark Teixeira flip on a Kosuke Fukodome grounder for an error. He then gave up a sharp single to Reed Johnson. Girardi then reluctantly ordered Mariano Rivera to warm up. Next Marquez went to full counts on Starlin Castro and Jeff Baker before retiring them. Then Aramis Ramirez lashed a bad-hop single that knocked over Ramiro Pena, who was subbing for Rodriguez at third base. But Marquez ended the game by retiring Soriano on a routine fly to center.

BOMBER BANTER

Phil Hughes struck out seven batters in 4 1/3 innings of a rehab assignment on Sunday with Class-A Staten Island in Brooklyn. Hughes gave up one run on three hits and a walk in a 61-pitch outing. It was Hughes first game since he was placed on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. More important good news for the Yankees was Hughes’ velocity. He averaged in the 92-93 range and topped out at 95 mph. Hughes was unable to reach 90 mph consistently throughout spring training. Hughes is scheduled to make a another rehab start with Double-A Trenton in five days and he possibly could be activated within two weeks.  . . .  Rodriguez downplayed concerns about a left shoulder injury that has been nagging the third baseman for the past few weeks. Girardi disputed a published report that it was a strain. He said it was just soreness and Rodriguez has been receiving treatment for it for about 10 days.

ON DECK

The Yankees, having won the Cub series and having also won eight of their last 10 games, continue their interleague road trip to Cincinnatti for a three-game series starting on Monday.

The Yankees will open the series with 24-year-old right-hander Ivan Nova (6-4, 4.46 ERA) on the mound. Nunez leads the A.L. and is second in the majors in run support. The Yankees average 9.41 runs per start for him. Nunez gave up four runs on seven hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings against Texas on Wednesday but the Yankees handed him a victory by scoring 12 runs for him. He has never faced the Reds.

The Red will counter with 25-year-old right-hander Johnny Cueto (4-2, 1.68 ERA). Cueto gave up one unearned run on five hits over innings in a victory over the Dodgers on Tuesday . Cueto is 0-1 with a 1.80 ERA against the Yankees in his career.

Game-time will be 7:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by ESPN and locally by the YES Network.

Swish’s Swat Honors Father As Yanks Pound Cubs

GAME 70

YANKEES 10, CUBS 4

Nick Swisher never got a chance to see he father, Steve, play at Wrigley Field. But on this Father’s Day he paid homage to the former Cubs catcher by blasting a big home run at the hallowed venue in front of national television audience.

The younger Swisher smacked a three-run home run deep into the bleachers in right-center in the top of the eighth inning off right-hander Chris Carpenter to break a 4-4 tie and New York added three more runs in the ninth to finally show the upstart Chicago Cubs who was boss in the three-game weekend series.

Yankees ace left-hander CC Sabathia (9-4) won his sixth game in his last seven starts and is now tied with six other pitchers for the major-league lead in victories. But for Sabathia, this was not his best outing and he actually trailed the game 4-1 after giving up a three-run home run to former Yankee Rafael Soriano with two out in the third inning.

Sabathia gave up four runs on eight hits and a walk and he fanned three batters in seven innings of work. Having trouble with command of his fastball, Sabathia adjusted to throw more breaking pitches and he only gave up two hits over the last four innings to get credit for the victory.

Sabathia allowed the Yankee offense to get him back into the game. After Brett Gardner led off the game with a home run off Cubs starter Randy Wells, the Yankees got back in the game with two runs in the fourth and a single run in the sixth off Wells.

Swisher, who finished the night 3-for-5 with four RBIs, singled in Alex Rodriguez with one out in the fourth inning. Eduardo Nunez scored Robinson Cano two batters later on a bases-loaded fielder’s choice groundout to third. The two-run inning was setup on a mental error by Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro. After Rodriguez drew a one-out walk, Cano hit a sure groundout to third baseman Aramis Ramirez. But Castro pulled his foot off the second-base bag before he caught the ball and Rodriguez and Cano both were ruled safe.

Two innings later, the Yankees tied the game. Rodriguez led off with a single. A groundout by Cano advanced Rodriguez to second and Swisher singled to moved Rodriguez to third. After a Wells wild pitch advanced Swisher to second, Russell Martin launched a sacrifice fly to right to score Rodriguez.

The Yankees then seized control of the game in the eighth inning on Cubs lefty reliever Sean Marshall (3-2). Rodriguez opened the frame with a broken-bat single to left. Cano followed by lacing a single to right-center to advance Rodriguez to third.

Cubs manager Mike Quade elected to bring in the right-handed Carpenter to force Swisher to hit from his weaker side this season, the left side. However, Carpenter fell behind by sailing two straight pitches high and way outside. Carpenter then elected to throw a fastball in the middle of the plate and Swisher got all of it to blast it deep into the right-centerfield bleachers, giving the Yankees a 7-4 lead and a lot of the Cubs fans among the 41,828 in attendance home early.

With the victory, the Yankees have improved to 41-29 and they are a season-high 12 games over .500. They also remain 1 1/2 games in back of the first-place Boston Red Sox in the American League East. The Cubs, meanwhile, are heading in the opposite direction. They are now 29-42.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Swisher 3-for-5 night has him headed in the right direction with his batting average. He raised his batting average to .237. After hitting .225 in April and .200 in May, Swisher is hitting .309 in June with four home runs and 13 RBIs. He is now hitting .187 against right-handers with four home runs and 20 RBIs.
  • Rodriguez reached base every time up and was 3-for-4 with two singles, a double, a walk, scored three runs and drove in another. Rodriguez is now hitting .289 on the season with 13 home runs and 42 RBIs. Though he may not be hitting for power, Rodriguez is tearing up June with a .295 average.
  • Gardner was 3-for-5 with a double, a home run, scored two runs and drove in one. That mean in the six games he and Swisher have shared the leadoff spot in place of the injured Derek Jeter they are a combined 10-for-23 (.435) with an on-base percentage of .552. Manager Joe Girardi might have a decision to make about the leadoff spot when Jeter returns.
  • Martin was showing no ill effects from his home-plate collision on Saturday with Carlos Pena and was 1-for-3 with a walk and had another bid for hit taken away in the ninth. Martin’s sac fly in the sixth tied the game and set the stage for the Yankees’ six-run explosion in the final two frames.
NAGGING NEGATIVES
  • Sabathia was fortunate to be able recover after a rocky beginning. He gave up four runs on six hits in the first and third innings, but he retired 12 of the last 13 hitters he faced to salvage a victory on a night when he did not have his best command. Sabathia is sixth in the American League in run support. The Yankees are averaging 7.89 runs a game for him.
  • Nunez was only the Yankee starter, except Sabathia, to not get a hit in the game. He was 0-for-3 with a walk but did drive in a run on a bases-loaded groundout in the fourth. It is only the second game in which he has started for Jeter at shortstop that he did not get a hit.
  • The Yankees called upon right-hander Jeff Marquez, 26, to pitch the ninth with a 10-4 lead. However, Marquez made it a Navy appearance — it was not just a job it was an adventure. First Marquez dropped a Mark Teixeira flip on a Kosuke Fukodome grounder for an error. He then gave a single to Reed Johnson. Girardi then ordered Mariano Rivera to warm up. Next Marquez went to full counts on Starlin Castro and Jeff Baker before retiring them. Then Aramis Ramirez lashed a bad-hop single that knocked over Ramiro Pena, who was subbing for Rodriguez at third base. But Marquez ended the game by retiring Soriano on a routine fly to center.

BOMBER BANTER

Phil Hughes struck out seven batters in 4 1/3 innings of a rehab assignment on Sunday with Class-A Staten Island in Brooklyn. Hughes gave one run on three hits and a walk in a 61-pitch outing. It was Hughes first game since he was placed on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. More important news for the Yankees was Hughes’ velocity. He averaged in the 92-93 range and topped out at 95 mph. Hughes was unable to reach 90 mph consistently throughout spring training. Hughes is scheduled to make a another rehab start with Double-A Trenton in five days and he possible could be activated within two weeks.  . . .  Rodriguez downplayed concerns about a left shoulder injury that has been nagging the third baseman for the past few weeks. Girardi disputed the report that it was a strain. He said it was just soreness and Rodriguez has been receiving treatment for it for about 10 days.

 

ON DECK

The Yankees, having won the Cub series and having also won eight of their last 10 games, continue their interleague road trip to Cincinnatti for a three-game series starting on Monday.

 

The Yankees will open the series with 24-year-old right-hander Ivan Nova (6-4, 4.46 ERA) on the mound. Nunez leads the A.L. and is second in the majors in run support. The Yankees average 9.41 runs per start for him. Nunez gave up four runs on seven hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings against Texas on Wednesday but the Yankees handed him a victory by scoring 12 runs for him. He has never faced the Reds.

 

The Red will counter with 25-year-old right-hander Johnny Cueto (4-2, 1.68 ERA). Cueto gave up one unearned run on five hits over innings in a victory over the Dodgers on Tuesday . Cueto is 0-1 with a 1.80 ERA against the Yankees in his career.

 

Game-time will be 7:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by ESPN and locally by the YES Network.

 

 

Nunez Atones With Key Hit As Yankees Edge Cubs

GAME 69

YANKEES 4, CUBS 3

Talented young players like Eduardo Nunez can have you scratching your head when he boots a routine grounder one minute and have you marveling at his great ability to hit in the clutch the next.

And so it was on a late Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field as Nunez committed what looked to be a costly error in the sixth inning. But he singled and scored the tie-breaking run in the sixth and stroked an RBI double in the ninth to score what proved to be the winning run as New York edged Chicago.

Nunez, who is subbing at shortstop for an injured Derek Jeter, is 7-for-18 (.389) with a home run and three RBIs in the five games he has started since Jeter was placed on the 15-day disabled list on June 14. Of course, in limited play this season he also has committed eight errors in the field this season. So you take the bad with the spectacular.

With the Yankees and Cubs tied 2-2 in the sixth, Nunez slapped a line-drive single on an 0-2 pitch from Cubs starter Ryan Dempster (5-6). He moved to second on an sacrifice bunt that landed foul and spun into fair territory by Yankees starter A.J. Burnett. Brett Gardner chased Dempster with a infield single that moved Nunez to third. Lefty reliever James Russell then surrendered a long sacrfrice fly to right that brought Nunez in with the tie-breaking run.

The Yankees then had to survive a bizarre sixth in which they had to withstand a hit batter and two errors with one out in the inning. Burnett hit Carlos Pena with a pitch but then induced Reed Johnson to hit into what looked to be a routine double-play grounder to Nunez. However, Nunez booted it and both runners were safe.

Burnett was replaced by right-hander Cory Wade and Wade got Rafael Soriano to hit a grounder to Alex Rodriguez at third. But Robinson Cano dropped Rodriguez’s relay to second and the bases were loaded. Geovany Soto then lifted a shallow line drive to left to Gardner. Gardner caught the drive and threw a one-hopper to Russell Martin at the plate that beat Pena by plenty. Pena attempted to bowl over Martin, who spent about a week nursing a back injury. However, Martin held on and popped up to show Pena the ball as the Yankees escaped holding a 3-2 lead.

Nunez again picked up the Yankees in the ninth after Cano blasted his second double of the game with one out off Jeff Samardzjia. Samardzjia then walked Nick Swisher and Cubs manager Mike Quade called in left-hander John Grabow. Grabow retired Martin on a foul popup but Nunez laced a 2-0 fastball into the gap in left to score Cano. But Swisher was gunned down trying to follow Cano at the plate on a throw from Starlin Castro. As it turned out that run Nunez drove in would come in to play in the bottom of the inning.

Mariano Rivera was brought in to pitch the ninth and he was touched for a leadoff home run by Johnson. But after a Soriano single, Rivera got a double play off the bat of Soto and then struck out Jeff Baker on three pitches to notch his 14th save of the season.

Burnett (7-5) was the winning pitcher, though he lasted only 5 1/3 innings. Burnett gave up two runs on four hits, walked three and struck out eight. His only big mistake was giving up a two-run home run to Pena in the fourth after walking Blake DeWitt, allowing the Cubs to draw even.

The Yankees, meanwhile, could not get the big hit off Dempster, who gave up eight hits and six walks in 5 1/3 innings. The Yankees collected 11 hits and 10 walks on the day off five Cubs pitchers but they had four runners cut down on the bases and they did not get key hits with runners in scoring position. They Yankees stranded a total of 13 runners on the day.

But the victory gives the Yankees a 40-29 record and the Yankees gained a game on the first-place Boston Red Sox in the American League East. They are now just 1 1/2 games out. The Cubs dropped to 29-41.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Burnett pitched a good game despite lasting only 5 1/3 innings. From the second inning through the fourth, eight of the nine outs he recorded were on strikeouts. Five of his Ks came on swings at curveballs in the dirt. Pitch count became an issue in the sixth and Girardi removed him after Nunez and committed his error.
  • Cory Wade, Hector Noesi and David Robertson pitched exceptionally well in relief of Burnett. Wade escaped the sixth on the double play at the plate that retired Pena. Noesi and Robertson each pitched a perfect inning in the seventh and eighth, respectively. Despite injuries to Joba Chamberlain, Rafael Soriano and Pedro Feliciano, the Yankees bullpen has been holding late leads.
  • Cano was 2-for-3 in the game with two doubles, two walks, a run scored and he drove in the Yankees first run in the third inning. Cano now leads the team with a .293 average. He now has a seven-game hitting streak in which he is 12-for-29 (.414) with two runs and five RBIs. He also is hitting .328 for the month.
  • Granderson put his awful 0-for-4 game with three strikeouts on Friday behind him. On Saturday, he was 2-for-3 with a walk, a run scored and a sac fly RBI that gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead. Granderson is hitting .286 for the month with four home runs and 12 RBIs.
NAGGING NEGATIVES
  • The first inning set the tone for the whole day with the Yankees’ offense. With one out they loaded the bases against Dempster on a hit and two walks. But Cano and Swisher struck out swinging and the Yankees left three of what would become 13 base-runners on the day. They also loaded the bases with one out in the eighth inning. However, Granderson flew out to shallow left and Mark Teixeira popped up in front of home plate to Pena.
  • The Yankees also had four runners thrown out on the bases. Granderson was caught stealing in the fourth, Rodriguez was thrown out by 15 feet by Soriano trying to stretch a single into a double in the fifth, Gardner was picked off by Russell in the sixth and Swisher was nailed trying to score in the ninth. It’s real easy to see that despite 21 base-runners the Yankees only scored four runs.
  • Though’s Gardner’s relay to nail Pena at the plate saved them, Nunez and Cano are going to have to play batter defense. Cano won a Gold Glove last season but this season he has made six errors. All of them of have been of the careless variety. Nunez leads the Yankees with eight errors despite the fact he has not played much until recently. His glove-work and his throwing need to get a lot better.

BOMBER BANTER

Yankee right-hander Phil Hughes will make a rehab start at short-season Class-A Staten Island on Sunday. Hughes will throw about 65 pitches. Hughes has been on the disabled list since April 14 with right shoulder inflammation.  . . .  In the five games the Yankees have played with Jeter on the DL, Gardner and Swisher have combined to go 7-for-18 (.389) with six walks, which brings their on-base percentage to .542. They also have scored five runs.  . . .  The Yankees have come to terms with their first selection in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, Dante Bichette Jr. Bichette, 18, is a third baseman and is the son of former major-leaguer Dante Bichette. The younger Bichette has arrived in Tampa, FL, and he will join the Gulf Coast League team there. Bichette hit .640 with 10 home runs and 40 RBIs at Orangewood Christian School in Maitland, FL.  . . .  FOX Sports play-by-play schmuck Joe Buck was really embarrassed after his miscall of Johnson’s home run in the ninth off Rivera. Buck told a national audience that Johnson had tied the game at 3-3. Seeing as Buck is a useless shill who desecrates the memory of his father every time he takes the mike and he also hates the Yankees, it is fitting that he be caught with his pants down Anthony Weiner style. But, alas, we have to say it ain’t so, Joe. The Yankees had a 4-2 lead when Johnson hit his home run and the final score was 4-3. Serves you right, Joe!

ON DECK

The Yankees will go for a victory in the rubber game of the series with the Cubs on Sunday.

The Yankees will have ace left-hander CC Sabathia (8-4, 3.28 ERA) on the mound. Sabathia gave up four runs in seven innings but was pitching with a huge lead over Texas on Tuesday. The victory was his fifth in his last six starts. Sabathia is 1-2 with a 5.76 ERA against the Cubs lifetime.

The Cubs will counter with right-hander Randy Wells (1-1, 5.63 ERA), who gave up three runs on eight hits in six innings in a no-decision against the Brewers this week. This is only his fifth start since coming off the disabled list. He has never faced the Yankees.

Game-time will be 8:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by ESPN.