By JAY COHEN
AP Sports Writer
CHICAGO (AP) – Curtis Granderson hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly
in the sixth inning and Brett Gardner made a terrific play in the
outfield to lead the New York Yankees to a 4-3 victory over the
Chicago Cubs on Saturday.
Granderson, who was born in nearby Blue Island, also had two
hits and a walk as the Yankees won for the seventh time in nine
games, bouncing back from a 3-1 loss in the opener of their first
series at Wrigley Field in eight years.
Granderson’s fly ball to deep right put New York ahead 3-2, but
the Yankees almost blew it with shoddy fielding behind A.J. Burnett
(7-5), who struck out eight in 5 1-3 innings.
Errors on shortstop Eduardo Nunez and second baseman Robinson
Cano helped Chicago load the bases with one out in the bottom of
the sixth. Geovany Soto then hit a sinking liner to left off Cory
Wade, but Gardner tracked it down and made a strong one-hop throw
to catcher Russell Martin, who held on for the final out after
Carlos Pena slammed into him.
Wade pumped his right arm behind the plate when the play was
over and Gardner sprinted in from the outfield as the Yankees
bounced off the field.
Hector Noesi and David Robertson each worked a perfect inning
for New York before Nunez also atoned for his error with an RBI
double in the ninth. Mariano Rivera allowed two hits, including
Reed Johnson’s leadoff homer, but still managed to close it out for
his 17th save in 20 opportunities.
Pena hit a two-run homer and Starlin Castro added two more hits
for the Cubs, who had won four of five. Castro has at least two
hits in five of his last six games and is batting .415 (17 for 41)
in his last 10 games overall.
A crowd of 42,236 filled Wrigley Field for the middle game of
this rare weekend series between two of baseball’s most popular
teams, setting a season high for the second straight day. But this
one had a much stronger Yankees presence than Friday’s opener.
Alex Rodriguez was welcomed with a “roll call” greeting from a
group of New York fans sitting in the bleachers. There were several
“Let’s go Yankees!” chants, and Rivera and Jorge Posada each
received a loud ovation when they entered the game.
Cubs starter Ryan Dempster (5-6) was in trouble throughout the
game, setting season highs with six walks and 119 pitches. The
right-hander allowed three runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings.
Dempster wriggled out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the
first, striking out Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher to end the
inning. But he got into trouble again in the third.
With one out and runners on the corners, Cano hit a smash down
the right-field line to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead. Rodriguez
moved to third on Cano’s RBI double and scored his 1,800th run on
Swisher’s sacrifice fly, snapping a tie with Ted Williams for 16th
on the career list.
Martin then walked and stole second before Dempster struck out
Nunez to end the inning, leaving runners on second and third.
Pena got the runs back for Chicago in the fourth, hitting a
tying drive to right with one out. The big first baseman, who spent
four seasons with Tampa Bay before signing with the Cubs over the
winter, was just 5 for 36 with 14 strikeouts against Burnett before
connecting for his 11th homer of the season.
Burnett allowed four hits and walked three in his first win
since June 1 at Oakland. He also had a sacrifice that landed in
foul territory before spinning across the first-base line and back
into the field to help set up Granderson’s tiebreaking fly ball.<
Notes: Yankees RHP Phil Hughes (shoulder inflammation) threw in
the outfield at the team’s spring training complex in Florida and
is scheduled to throw around 65 pitches Sunday in a rehab
appearance for Class-A Staten Island. … 3B Dante Bichette Jr. has
agreed to a deal with the Yankees, and New York’s top draft pick
will begin his professional career with the club’s rookie-level
team in Florida. Yankees manager Joe Girardi played with his
father, Dante, who hit .299 with 274 homers in 14 seasons in the
majors. … Actors Vince Vaughn and Joel McHale each threw out a
ceremonial first pitch. Vaughn, a big Cubs fan, also led the
singing of “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” during the
seventh-inning stretch. … Cano’s one-out double into left-center
in the eighth inning scattered a flock of seagulls that covered
part of the outfield.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)