Yankees 3, White Sox 2
“You knew Duque is going to bend but not break,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said. “He didn’t give us much, but he walked a couple of guys. That was vintage Duque.”
Mariano Rivera got his career-best 30th consecutive save, and the Yankees (60-50) moved 10 games over .500 for the first time this season. They improved to 2-32 when scoring three runs or fewer and won for the fourth time in five games overall.
It was New York’s first meeting this season with the AL Central-leading White Sox (72-39), who have the best record in the major leagues.
“We did a lot of good things tonight. It was just a complete, clean ballgame for us,” Torre said. “You’re curious when you haven’t faced a team that has a record like they do, to see how you match up to them. It makes you feel a little better about yourself.”
Hernandez (8-5) got a nice ovation before the game from Yankees fans who remember all he accomplished during two stints in pinstripes from 1998-04. The Cuban right-hander with the deceptive delivery went 61-40 for New York and 9-3 with a 2.65 ERA in the postseason.
“They are not my teammates anymore. My teammates are the ones here with me, the Chicago White Sox. It’s another team now,” Hernandez said. “I wanted this victory, like all of them. I don’t like to lose.”
Mussina (11-7) struck out Jermaine Dye on his 122nd pitch with runners at second and third to end the sixth.
“I knew it was going to be my last hitter,” Mussina said. “Today was the way we drew it up.”
The right-hander allowed two runs and eight hits, striking out seven and walking none. Tanyon Sturtze and Tom Gordon each worked a scoreless inning, setting up Rivera for his 30th straight save since blowing his first two chances this season against Boston.
“That was the first two games,” said Rivera, who finished with a perfect ninth. “Even though a bunch of people had me retiring, I trust my stuff and I know who I am.”
Hernandez pumped his fist after the play, and Jeter tapped him on the thigh as he jogged back toward the dugout.
Rowand followed that up with an over-the-shoulder catch at the wall in right-center on Robinson Cano’s shot.
“I’ve never had back-to-back plays like that,” Rowand said. “We had scouting reports, and both times they hit it the other way.”
Gary Sheffield then walked, and El Duque dropped down on a 3-1 pitch to Rodriguez, who sent it soaring over the left-field fence for his AL-leading 32nd homer and second in two games.
“I put him up there with Mo (Rivera) as one of the greatest competitors that I’ve ever played against,” Rodriguez said. “It’s kind of weird seeing him in a different uniform.”
Tony Womack looped a double down the left-field line in the second inning, his second extra-base hit since May 13, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Jeter followed with an RBI groundout, making it 3-0.
Hernandez gave up three runs and four hits in six innings.
“It was fun to watch him pitch here,” Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said.
Rowand hit an RBI double off the left-center fence in the fifth and scored on Juan Uribe’s sacrifice fly. But that was all the White Sox could muster on offense.
It might be at least another 10 days before Yankees DH Ruben Sierra (hamstring) can begin a minor league rehab assignment. … Rowand also crashed into the fence while making a catch that saved two runs Sunday. “Rowand should be a Gold Glove award candidate,” Guillen said. … The Yankees reached nine games over .500 three times previously. … Sheffield went 0-for-2 with two walks, ending his 14-game hitting streak. He hit a rare foul ball out of Yankee Stadium in the eighth. … The White Sox fell to 36-17 on the road. … The Yankees have drawn 16 consecutive sellout crowds at home. … Hernandez dropped to 30-20 lifetime at Yankee Stadium. … Rodriguez has 18 homers this season at Yankee Stadium, one shy of the team record for right-handed batters set by Joe DiMaggio (1937) and Sheffield (2004).