NEW YORK -- The carnage of the Yankees' six-run fifth inning was still in progress, and Brett Gardner saw an opportunity to deliver a good-natured jab that would cut to the core of Nick Swisher's pride.
Knowing full well the answer, Gardner has been repeatedly asking Swisher how many home runs he's hit this season. Swisher finally changed the answer, joining the party in the Bombers' 12-3 rout of the White Sox.
"We always give each other a hard time," Gardner said. "A lot of us in here, we always stay on each other and try to push each other, motivate each other and try to make each other better."
It worked in the fifth, as the Yankees rode a carousel of patience to boot erratic starter Edwin Jackson and enjoy a 32-minute half-inning in which 12 batters went to the plate.
Six hitters drove in runs for the Yankees in the inning, and when Gardner came back to the plate for his second at-bat of the frame, the bases were loaded and Chicago had yet to record a single out.
"I thought our guys did a good job of just playing some small ball, getting runners over, getting them in," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Any time you can put a big inning on someone, it really helps your starting pitcher. Starting pitchers love it."
Indeed, the outburst proved to be more than enough support for left-hander CC Sabathia, who picked up his second win of the season. Sabathia spent most of the inning in the batting cage getting heat applied to his arm, and he was more than willing to wait.
"I'll take them all the time," Sabathia said. "We've got the lineup, we've got the guys in here for that to happen pretty much every inning at any time. You just sit and wait, and most of the time, you go back out with a big lead."
New York scored twice without the benefit of a hit in the third, as Jackson walked four batters -- including a bases-loaded free pass to Swisher -- and allowed a sacrifice fly to Robinson Cano.
Swisher would go on to collect three hits, including the two-run homer in the seventh, but he was left red-faced as Gardner circled the bases after pelting a drive into the right-field seats.
"I said, 'I'd better hurry up,'" said Swisher, now outhomered 3-1 by Gardner. "I'm so happy for him. Gardy's the type of guy that's not necessarily a home run hitter, but he's really hitting line drives that are leaving the ballpark. To me, I think that goes to show that he's back, for sure."
It continued, as the next three Yankees would piece together a makeshift cycle: Eduardo Nunez doubled, Curtis Granderson ripped a run-scoring triple and Swisher expressed some relief by snapping an 0-for-19 skid with an RBI single.
"It was hard for me to tell if he was frustrated that he wasn't getting any hits or he wasn't hitting any home runs," Girardi said.
That was it for Jackson, who yielded to Tony Pena and would be charged with six runs on four hits, having walked five, struck out two and thrown one wild pitch.
"You start a game throwing strikes, and all of a sudden, you can't find the zone," Jackson said. "You definitely put yourself in a situation where you're not helping yourself."
After a hit, Alex Rodriguez slugged a run-scoring double to deep right field, and an intentional walk set up a Russell Martin RBI single and a bases-loaded walk to Jorge Posada.
A breezy victory was a nice change for Sabathia, who entered the game having allowed three earned runs or fewer in four of his five previous starts, with only one win and three no-decisions to show for it.
The big left-hander held the White Sox to three runs -- none earned -- in seven innings, scattering six hits while striking out six and walking one in a 100-pitch effort.
"Tonight, I don't think he shook me off once," Martin said. "He's the type of guy who, even if he does get behind in counts, can throw all of his pitches at any time. That helps him. He doesn't have to rely on his fastball to get outs."
Yankees starters have held opponents to one earned run or fewer in each of the last five games, posting a 0.76 ERA (three earned runs in 35 1/3 innings) over the span.
It's a formula the Yankees can get used to, and Sabathia agreed with the suggestion that none of the starters wants to be the one out there when the good times stop rolling.
"You never want to be the guy, no matter what anybody says," Sabathia said. "You know guys have been pitching good and getting deep into the games and giving the bullpen a rest. You want to try to repeat that every time out."