NEW YORK (AP)—Gavin Floyd refused to give in to Jason Giambi as the Yankees’ slugger fouled off pitch after pitch with the bases loaded in the fifth inning. Eighth pitch, ninth pitch, 10th, Floyd kept thinking to himself, “I’m going to get him.”
And he did. Floyd struck out Giambi on the 12th pitch of the at-bat, the highlight of a gritty, seven-inning performance that helped the White Sox beat New York 6-2 Tuesday night to open a 2 1/2 -game lead in the AL Central over Minnesota, which lost at Cleveland.
“I think that’s when this kid started to become a man,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said of his 25-year-old ace in the making. “Every time we are bleeding this guy gives us a chance to win the game.”
Derek Jeter passed Lou Gehrig for most career hits at the soon-to-close Yankee Stadium with his 1,270th, a sharp first-inning single past third baseman Juan Uribe, who was playing on the edge of the infield grass. The crowd of 52,558 gave Jeter a sustained standing ovation and he responded with a wave of his helmet while a bat boy retrieved the milestone ball.
“It’s kind of hard to enjoy it because we lost the game,” Jeter said. “But this is something that is pretty special. I mean, I’d be lying to you if I said it wasn’t. Records are made to be broken, but this one at least will never be broken.”
Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano returned to the starting lineup after being benched Monday as punishment for not hustling on a fielding play Sunday and went 0-for-4.
Floyd (16-7) put runners in scoring position in four of his seven innings but gave up just two runs for his first win in three starts this month.
He gave up nine hits, including Giambi’s 31st homer in the fourth, and struck out three without walking a batter. In just his second big league season, Floyd threw a career-high 116 pitches.
“I was just trying to battle, to just keep making pitches,” Floyd said. “I think I’m getting better every start, learning from my mistakes.”
Konerko, who was injured on Sept. 9, singled in the second and drove in a run with a double off Andy Pettitte in a three-run fourth. His return is big for the White Sox, who are playing without MVP candidate Carlos Quentin (broken wrist) and Joe Crede (back). The White Sox improved to 7-7 in September as they try to lock up their first division title since 2005, when they won the World Series.
“I felt good,” Konerko said. “I just tried to get going early. My swing felt all right.”
Manager Joe Girardi moved Pettitte back a day so he could start what should be the final game at Yankee Stadium on Sunday. The honor completes a turnaround for Pettitte, who was named in the Mitchell Report last winter.
But the lefty made a heartfelt apology during spring training for using human growth hormone and fans have recognized him throughout the season for his accomplishments as a core member of the group that won four World Series titles in five years from 1996-2000.
“I’m looking forward to it. That’s all I can tell you,” Pettitte said. “I’m so disappointed, you know that, the way that this stretch has gone for me. But I am so excited to be pitching that last game here. I’m thankful that they have lined me up to get it and hope I can go out and give us a good outing and get us a win in that game.”
While he’s 94-42 in his career at the ballpark—second to Ron Guidry, who had 99 wins, since the ballpark was remodeled in the mid-1970s—Pettitte (13-14) dropped to 5-8 at home this year. His 14 losses are a career high, and he’s never had a losing season.
Pettitte dropped to 1-7 in 10 starts since July 26 and has lost five straight starts for the first time in his career. He walked in a run in the fourth.
“For Andy, I know this is killing him, and he’s giving us everything he’s got,” Girardi said.
Pettitte left after six innings having struck out four, bringing his career total to 1,999.
Johnny Damon had one of the Yankees two hits in 12 at-bats with runners in scoring position. He hit an RBI double in the third. Alex Rodriguez had the other. He had an infield single in the fifth to load the bases.
Guillen named Clayton Richard (2-4) as their starter Wednesday. … Jeter moved past Gehrig for second in at-bats when he singled in the first with 8,002. … In the middle of the fourth inning the Yankees public address announcer implored fans to treat Yankee Stadium “respectfully over the final five games, and warned that anyone caught trying to take momentos from the ballpark would be arrested and prosecuted.” The Yankees will have extra police, including federal officers, in the stands Sunday. … Olympic silver medalist Dara Torres threw out the ceremonial first pitch, and Henry Kissinger, North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams and Hillary Duff were at the game.