In the thick of a playoff race, the New York Yankees were determined to avoid the letdown they had in Chicago last month — when they were swept by the White Sox in a three-game series.
One big inning wiped out any worries.
Derek Jeter ended a slump with two hits and two RBIs, Alex Rodriguez reached base twice in an eight-run fourth inning and the Yankees battered the White Sox 9-1 on Monday in a game interrupted for nearly two hours by rain.
"We've played better, there's no doubt about it. We've added a few pieces here since we played," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I feel a lot better."
A day after wasting a late lead in a loss to wild card-rival Baltimore, the Yankees rocked reliever Dylan Axelrod and took advantage of the sloppy White Sox for their most productive inning since Oct. 1.
With thunder clapping in the first inning, Jeter had a run-scoring single off Jose Quintana (7-5) to stop an 0-for-14 slide. It was the 3,313th hit of Jeter's career, tying him with Eddie Collins for ninth on the career list.
The Yankees' bats then made all the noise after a 1-hour, 53-minute delay, helping them end a six-game skid against Chicago.
Alfonso Soriano, Mark Reynolds, Austin Romine, Vernon Wells, Brett Gardner and Jeter all drove in runs during the fourth-inning barrage. The offensive display made it easy on David Huff (2-0), who entered for Phil Hughes with one out in the second when play resumed.
"Everybody got kind of loose after that inning," Romine said. "It was fun for us."
The Yankees looked as if they were eager to wipe out the memory of that sweep at the reeling White Sox from Aug. 5-7. New York, which entered Monday 3½ back for the second AL wild card, follows this series with 11 straight games against East rivals Boston and Baltimore.
Chicago ended a 10-game losing streak with the win Aug. 5 — the night of A-Rod's season debut — and then went on a nice run for the AL Central's last-place team, going 16-7 until being swept by Boston last weekend. Paul Konerko hit his 432nd homer for the White Sox, passing Cal Ripken to take sole possession of 44th place on the home run list.
Rodriguez led off the fourth with an opposite-field double to right. The next six batters reached — and five runs scored — before Robinson Cano popped to second base for the first out.
The Yankees had help in running up their biggest inning since scoring nine against Boston during the final weekend of the regular season.
"We have to play better than that if we're going to start winning games," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "The rest of the way out we've got guys who you're kind of evaluating jobs for next year, so it just has to get better."
Wells followed Rodriguez's double with a one-hop single that Axelrod deflected with his glove. Curtis Granderson walked on a full-count pitch and Reynolds then hit a sharp grounder that diving third baseman Conor Gillaspie fielded only to have the ball squirt out of his glove. A-Rod scored and Reynolds had a hit.
Romine laced a two-run single to center field that made it 4-0, Gardner had an RBI double to right and Jeter slapped a ball up the middle that hit Axelrod and bounced away for another fortunate hit, and another run. After Cano popped to second base, Rodriguez popped a ball directly behind home plate that catcher Josh Phegley dropped for an error. With a second chance, Rodriguez walked to load the bases.
"We were fortunate we got some bounces that went our way but for the most part we had some good at-bats," Jeter said.
Jake Petricka relieved and didn't get much help from his defense, either.
Wells grounded to first baseman Adam Dunn, who went for the force at second but was off-target with his throw for an error as two runs scored to make it 9-0. Granderson and Reynolds, the 12th and 13th batters off the inning, each grounded into fielder's choices.
Axelrod gave up eight runs — six earned — and eight hits in 2 1-3 innings.
"We weren't helping him at all." Ventura said. "You've got to be able to catch the ball and play good defense, otherwise you're not going to win games."
Huff gave up a run and five hits in 5 2-3 innings.
NOTES: White Sox C Tyler Flowers will have surgery Thursday on his right shoulder. The operation will determine whether his labrum is damaged. Recovery time should take three to six months. ... Chicago pushed back LHP Hector Santiago's next start back a day to Thursday. The starter for Wednesday's series finale in New York is being listed as TBA but could be top prospect RHP Erik Johnson. ... Yankees LHP Cesar Cabral made his big league debut and got a souvenir with his first strikeout — the ball was taken out of play. He pitched a scoreless eighth. ... J.R. Murphy singled in his big league debut, a pinch-hit appearance in the eighth. Murphy became the 52nd player used by the Yankees, breaking the team mark set in 2005 and tied in 2008.