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White Sox-Yankees Preview

AP - Sports

Two big innings in the first two games of this series have the New York Yankees in position to sweep the Chicago White Sox.

CC Sabathia owns baseball's worst ERA since the All-Star break, but he has pitched his best for the New York Yankees in September.

The Yankees hope Sabathia can begin to solve his woes when they look to continue their push for the playoffs by handing the visiting White Sox a sixth straight defeat Wednesday night.

New York (74-64) is trying to catch Tampa Bay for the AL's second wild card as it seeks its first three-game home sweep of Chicago (56-81) since Aug. 28-30, 2009.

The Yankees used an eight-run fourth inning to post Monday's 9-1 rout, then scored five in the eighth to rally for a 6-4 victory Tuesday.

The Yankees won for the 12th time in 14 home games Tuesday, as Eduardo Nunez's two-run double capped the eighth-inning rally.

"It's a great win for us,'' manager Joe Girardi said. "We're trying to gain ground on teams, and every game is important."

It will be up to Sabathia (12-11, 4.91 ERA) to help New York maintain its momentum ahead of a four-game set with AL East-leading Boston that begins Thursday.

Sabathia is 3-3 with a 7.38 ERA since the All-Star break, going 3-1 despite a 6.17 ERA in his last four outings thanks to an offense that has totaled 24 runs of support in that span. He knows that he hasn't been at his best.

"If I can keep these guys in the game, we've got a good chance of winning," Sabathia said.

The left-hander is 9-5 with New York in 20 career starts in September with a 2.82 ERA - his lowest in any month.

Sabathia is 18-4 with a 3.63 ERA in 32 starts against the White Sox, including 4-0 with a 3.53 ERA in six with New York. The Yankees won the first five of those games before Mariano Rivera blew a ninth-inning lead in a 6-5, 12-inning loss Aug. 7 after Sabathia gave up three runs over 7 1-3 innings.

Chicago sluggers Adam Dunn (.156) and Paul Konerko (.228) have fared poorly against Sabathia while Alexei Ramirez (11 for 26) and Gordon Beckham (8 for 20) have enjoyed success.

Derek Jeter had two hits Tuesday, giving him 3,315 to move ahead of Eddie Collins (3,313) for ninth on the career list. Rivera struck out two in a perfect ninth to reach 40 saves for the ninth time.

Girardi chose not to start left-handed hitters Curtis Granderson and Ichiro Suzuki against left-hander Chris Sale on Tuesday. Both could be in the lineup one night later when right-hander Erik Johnson (NR) makes his big league debut for Chicago.

The 23-year-old Johnson is considered one of the White Sox's top prospects. He has a 12-3 record with a 1.96 ERA over 24 combined starts between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte.

"Whenever they send me back out there, I'm going to give it all I've got," Johnson told the White Sox's official website. "Every opportunity I get, I'll make the most of."

Chicago has dropped nine straight on the road against AL East foes.

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