Wang goes the distance for win
Four-run third eases right-hander's complete-game effort
CHICAGO -- Chien-Ming Wang's best game of the season was probably last month in Seattle, when he lost a perfect game in the eighth after retiring the first 22 hitters.
"That game was pretty good," Yankees manager Joe Torre said, shaking his head. "Why do you have to remind me about those things?"
Maybe Wang's stuff was a touch off his Seattle best on Wednesday in Chicago, but his performance was more meaningful and just as dominating. Wang threw the Yankees' first complete-game victory since, well, his last one on July 28, 2006, against Tampa Bay (a 6-0 win), as the Yankees backed him up with a four-run third inning en route to a 5-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox for their second straight win.
The 27-year-old Wang notched his third complete game, using all of his pitches -- slider, curveball and sinker especially -- to shut down an occasionally potent White Sox lineup. Wang, who won for the fourth time in five starts to improve to 5-4, gave up five hits and one walk, while striking out four. He needed only 104 pitches. To put that number in perspective, he threw 112 pitches in 5 2/3 innings in his last start.
"He's very business-like about what he does and he's pretty good at it," Torre said.
"He threw the ball incredible today," said Alex Rodriguez, whose two-run single with the bases loaded highlighted the third, the club's second four-run frame in as many days. "That was probably as good a game as he's thrown with the Yankees, as far as I can remember."
Wang's performance gave the bullpen a much-needed rest. Mike Mussina worked five innings Saturday, Andy Pettitte left in the fifth Sunday, Matt DeSalvo couldn't make it out of the second on Monday and Tyler Clippard went just five Tuesday. With Mussina going Thursday, Pettitte Friday and Roger Clemens making his season debut Saturday, the bullpen may be called again pretty soon to do some heavy lifting.
"It's very important," Torre said of Wang's outing. "Especially because we went through some people in the bullpen [Tuesday] night and we had a long weekend. That was a big lift."
Torre praised Wang for using his slider and curveball to set up his heavy sinker, inducing 14 groundouts. The White Sox only run came on a Juan Uribe groundout in the third.
"Some days his sinker is better than other days," Torre said. "Today, it was pretty good, it was exploding. But he threw some real good sliders today. He struck out Uribe on a slider [in the sixth]. He was throwing some good pitches."
Wang said he felt in control of all of his pitches and slowed his pace accordingly. No one approached him to see if he wanted out before the ninth, and he thought nothing of the complete game.
"The team win is most important," he said.
The Yankees surely appreciate that thought. They have a chance to win the four-game series Thursday night and claim back-to-back series for the first time this season. Another win would also give them a three-game winning streak for just the third time this season. They've yet to win four straight.
"[Wednesday] we can do something we haven't done in a while, win three in a row," Torre said.
The Yankees gave Wang all the runs he needed in the third. No. 9 hitter Miguel Cairo, who started at first base for the second straight game, led off the inning with a single, stole second, and scored on Johnny Damon's double. Derek Jeter singled, Bobby Abreu walked and Rodriguez scored two with a hit to center. After a slow start out of the box, he was called out sliding into second, though replays showed he may have been safe. A-Rod argued with second-base umpire Gary Darling, and Torre came out to argue as well. Sox starter Javier Vazquez then walked Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui's sac fly scored Abreu. The sacrifice turned into a double play as Posada was tagged out going to second to end the inning.
"That was a good inning for us," Rodriguez said. "For all of our pitchers, we like to score runs early and often to get them some confidence."
Damon, looking invigorated in his role as the designated hitter, had two doubles, and Rodriguez, Melky Cabrera and Cairo each had two hits. Posada added his 21st double of the season, just six shy of his total last year, and Abreu added his third homer in the eighth.
Cabrera had a highlight throw in center in the sixth, gunning down speedy Jerry Owens at the plate on a Tadahito Iguchi single.
"Amazing," said Damon, the erstwhile center fielder. "I'm not sure anybody has a better arm in the game. There are not too many center fielders who can stop a running game. He's been incredible."
Vazquez (3-4) gave up four runs, seven hits and three walks in six innings. He struck out seven. Damon doubled to lead off the game, but Vazquez struck out the next three batters.
Jon Greenberg is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.