CHICAGO — Melky Cabrera became the 15th Yankees player and their first in 14 years to hit for the cycle, leading New York to an 8-5 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Sunday afternoon.
Cabrera hit a three-run homer in the second to give the Yankees a 3-0 lead, doubled in the fourth and chased Mark Buehrle (11-5) with an RBI single in the fifth. He then tripled to right leading off the ninth against Scott Linebrink, drawing a loud roar from a crowd that had showered Buehrle with cheers before his first start at home since his perfect game.
This time, the fans saw something rare happen at the plate.
The cycle was the first by a Yankee since Tony Fernandez did it against Oakland on Sept. 3, 1995, and the second by a White Sox opponent in as many seasons. Minnesota's Carlos Gomez did it against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on May 7, 2008.
The four hits by Cabrera also tied a career-high and lifted the Yankees to a much-needed win after a 14-4 pounding the previous day left them just a half-game ahead of Boston in the AL East. It also helped them avoid their first four-game sweep by the White Sox in nine years and their first at Chicago since August 1964 and allowed them to prevail despite a somewhat shaky start by CC Sabathia (11-7).
What looked like a promising matchup between aces never materialized.
Staked to the early lead after Cabrera's 10th homer, Sabathia quickly gave it back in the fourth when Jermaine Dye hit a two-run shot and Jim Thome followed with his 559th home run. The Yankees responded, scoring two each in the fourth and fifth to grab a 7-4 lead, and Sabathia settled down.
It was still a three-run game when Gordon Beckham chased him with a leadoff double in the eighth — the 10th hit against Sabathia. Phil Hughes struck out Jermaine Dye and walked Jim Thome to put runners on first and second, bringing the tying run to the plate. Paul Konerko then struck out before Carlos Quentin hit an RBI single off Mariano Rivera, who had just entered the game, to make it 7-5.
Rivera then pitched a scoreless ninth for his 30th save in 31 chances.
Buehrle was far from effective let alone perfect in his first start at U.S. Cellular Field since his perfect game against Tampa Bay on July 23. This time, he allowed seven runs and 12 hits in 4 1-3 innings after teasing another historic performance in his previous start against Minnesota.
In that game, he retired the first 17 batters to set a major league record with 45 outs in a row before the Twins rallied for the win. This time, he simply got hit hard again by the Yankees and is 1-6 in nine career starts against them.
NOTES: Sunday marked the 30th anniversary of Thurman Munson's fatal plane crash in Canton, Ohio, and Reggie Jackson still remembers the "chilling feeling" that gripped him when he heard the news. The Yankees had a day off, and Jackson was in Connecticut when he learned about the crash. "I got a really eery feeling because it said 'Yankee great,' 'Yankee superstar,' or something like that 'dies in a plane crash,'" said Jackson, now a special adviser. Munson often flew home on days off to be with his family and was practicing takeoffs and landings in a Cessna citation jet when it clipped a tree and fell short of the runway at Akron-Canton Regional Airport. His last game was a three-inning stint at first base the day before at Chicago. ... Derek Jeter played in his 2,084th game, tying Babe Ruth for fourth on the Yankees career list. ... Jake Peavy, just acquired in a blockbuster trade with San Diego, threw 50 pitches off the bullpen mound on Sunday. The right-hander is on the disabled list with a tendon injury in his right ankle, and the White Sox do not expect him back for about another month.