Mariano Rivera is the greatest closer in baseball history, but he can be human from time to time.
Rivera entered Wednesday night's game in the bottom of the ninth inning to a standing ovation at U.S. Cellular Field. The Yankees held a 4-3 lead, and Rivera retired the first two White Sox hitters he faced, Alex Rios and Paul Konerko.
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"When he comes in from the bullpen, you realize you're not in a good spot," Sox manager Robin Ventura said.
The 43-year-old Rivera is retiring at the end of the season, so Wednesday was his final appearance in Chicago.
But instead of nailing down his 36th save in 38 opportunities, Rivera gave up a double to Gordon Beckham before pinch hitter Adam Dunn tied the game with a single.
That sent the game into extra innings, and Alejandro De Aza's two-out triple in the 12th off reliever Adam Warren scored Tyler Flowers and Alexei Ramirez and lifted the White Sox to a three-game sweep over New York.
The Sox have swept back-to-back three-game series against the Yankees for the first time in 100 years. They also won three straight against New York last August at the Cell.
Before the Yankees arrived Monday, the White Sox were riding a 10-game losing streak, their longest since 1976. "It's a much better feeling because it's no fun losing," De Aza said. "The fun is when you win."
Coming back against a pitcher the caliber of Rivera with two outs and nobody on base is really fun.
"Everybody stayed with it," Ventura said. "The way it's been going, the effort's been there. The results might not have been there the last couple weeks, so it's nice for them to get one of these. It's been tough."
New York built a 4-0 lead against the Sox and starting pitcher Hector Santiago, but a solo home run by Beckham off Yankees starter CC Sabathia in the fifth inning changed the momentum.
An RBI double by Konerko and run-scoring groundout by Beckham made it 4-3 in the seventh inning, and the Sox tied it against Rivera in the ninth.
Jones stepping up:
The White Sox traded ace setup man Jesse Crain to Tampa Bay because they are hopelessly out of playoff contention and Crain is a free agent at the end of the season.
They also feel Nate Jones can capably fill Crain's role, and the 27-year-old relief pitcher has been on a roll. He pitched 11⁄3 scoreless innings against the Yankees on Wednesday and has allowed only 1 earned run in his last 122⁄3 innings.
In addition to his 100-mph fastball, Jones' emerging secondary pitches have taken him to a new level.
"I'm feeling pretty good with all three of my pitches, the slider and changeup especially," Jones said. "They're awesome when you throw them for strikes to get people off your fastball.
"Maybe that's what I was running into trouble with early in the season. I wasn't locating my secondary pitches, so they could sit on that. It doesn't matter how hard you throw, they're going to be able to time it and hit it."