Yankees surge past White Sox

Yankees surge past White Sox

CHICAGO -- After suffering through an abysmal May, Bobby Abreu's name has been floated in trade gossip, but with the way he's playing, the Yankees probably aren't in any hurry to get rid of him.

Abreu, recently rumored to be headed across the concourse to the home clubhouse for fellow outfielder Jermaine Dye, had two of the Yankees' season-high 17 hits to help back rookie starter Tyler Clippard's brief but effective outing and overpower the Chicago White Sox for a 7-3 victory at U.S. Cellular Field on Tuesday night.

The Yankees, who compiled 16 hits twice this season, scored four runs in the sixth against White Sox starter Mark Buehrle to break open up a tie game. With the win, and Tampa Bay's 12-11 loss in Toronto, the Yankees move a game ahead of the last-place Devil Rays in the American League East.

Every Yankees batter had a hit and the top four went 10-for-19 with six runs. Johnny Damon and Alex Rodriguez had three hits apiece, with A-Rod adding a double, three RBIs (giving him 50) and his 21st homer of the year. Abreu had an RBI single and Derek Jeter had two hits and two runs. All four had a hit and a run in the Yankees' big sixth inning.

"When we hit like today, we're going to score a lot of runs," Abreu said. "When the middle of lineup hits, it's a different game."

Abreu has had a good road trip and has nine hits in his last 18 at-bats to push his average just north of .250. He is also providing Rodriguez with some room to operate in the cleanup spot.

"I love hitting behind him because you get to see so many pitches," Rodriguez said. "He seems to be in a groove. He seems to be relaxed, and that's good for us."

"I feel a lot better than before," Abreu said. "The last two months, I was swinging at a lot of bad pitches, swinging at pitches that weren't really there. I'm seeing a lot of good pitches, and I'm seeing the ball all the way through. That's when I feel good."

Hitting leadoff from the DH spot, Damon had his fourth three-hit game of the season and doubled his total for this road trip (3-for-24 coming in). His double sparked the five-hit sixth inning.

"Johnny makes a huge difference," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "He gives us a shot of adrenaline, no question."

The hot-hitting Robinson Cano hit a double in the fifth and scored on a Miguel Cairo single to tie the game at 1. In the sixth, Damon's hit to the left-field corner got things rolling against Buehrle (2-3). Damon moved to third on Jeter's perfectly placed bunt toward third, ending an 0-for-13 slide. Abreu scored Damon with a single, and Rodriguez followed with an RBI double. Jorge Posada hit a sacrifice fly to right and Dye's throw home just missed nailing a sliding Abreu at the plate. Hideki Matsui's single scored Rodriguez from third to cap off the scoring.

"Since the last game in Toronto, this ballclub has had a good edge to it, the everyday players," Torre said. "We've been having good at-bats, going out there ready to hit, having something in mind."

Clippard (3-1) was pulled after five innings and 89 pitches. The rookie won his second straight start and gave up one run on five hits, walking three and striking out four. He got to watch the Yankees pull ahead for good, knowing he wasn't going back in. Torre said he likes the way Clippard is competing and how he staved off what could've been the start of another losing streak after Matt DeSalvo's forgettable performance on Monday.

"The pitcher has to set the pace and tone for our being consistent," Torre said. "Tonight was a bonus. We came into the first two games here with two kids, and we got a win in the second game. Now we have more experience going."

Torre looked good in giving Cairo his first start at first base. Cairo had made just two pinch-running appearances in the past week and hadn't played the field since the middle of May. He started two double plays and added a pair of hits. Cairo was 2-for-16 (.125) with no RBIs coming into the game.

"He is important, and we need to get him playing time on a regular basis -- once a week or something like that," Torre said. "Now with the first-base situation what it is, we have a better chance to get him that once a week."

Trailing, 6-1, the White Sox loaded the bases with one out in the eighth against Kyle Farnsworth. Rob Mackowiak scored Jim Thome from third with a grounder to short, but Juan Uribe popped out to Posada to end the inning.

Torre was forced to use closer Mariano Rivera in the ninth after Brian Bruney loaded the bases with one out. Jerry Owens scored on Dye's sac fly, and Rivera got A.J. Pierzynski to ground out for his sixth save.

Buehrle is winless in seven starts since his 2-0 start to the season, leaving him stuck on career win No. 99. His struggles against the Yankees continued, as he gave up five runs on 11 hits in six innings.

Jon Greenberg is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.