NEW YORK — Erik Johnson kept putting runners on base — with a little help from his sloppy teammates — then kept wriggling out of the jams. Eventually, his good fortune ran out.
Dustin Ackley homered in the sixth to spark New York’s late-waking offense and Luis Severino pitched five-hit ball for six innings Sept. 27 as the Yankees moved closer to a playoff berth with a 6-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox.
Brian McCann had a sacrifice fly in the first inning off Johnson (3-1) that was set up by a leadoff walk and first baseman Jose Abreu’s errors on consecutive plays, the second two-error game of Abreu’s major league career.
The Yankees repeatedly wasted chances against Johnson, who was making his fifth start this season. New York was 0-for-9 with RISP through four innings.
“You just have to grind ’em out and keep throwing up zeroes as best you can,” Johnson said. “Definitely against that offense you have to fill up the zone with a lot of quality pitches. They don’t chase a whole lot and they make you throw the ball over the plate.”
Johnson gave up seven hits and three runs — two earned — in 5 2-3 innings. He walked four and struck out five.
The White Sox finished their road schedule 36-45, three wins better than last season.
Severino (5-3) induced three double plays in shutting down the White Sox in his 10th big league start, helping the Yankees cut their magic number for clinching at least a wild card to three and move within one of the franchise’s 10,000th regular-season victory.
“You know he’s got a fastball, but any time he got in a hitter’s count he could go with his secondary stuff and throw it for a strike and it’s not average secondary stuff, too,” Manager Robin Ventura said. “It’s pretty good.”
Severino got into trouble in the fifth, when the White Sox got a pair of leadoff singles, and in the sixth, when Chicago put two on with one out. Each time the 21-year-old rookie got a double play to get out of it.
Melky Cabrera grounded to shortstop Didi Gregorius on Severino’s 99th and final pitch for an inning-ending double play. Cabrera also ended the first with a grounder to Gregorius for another DP.
“He has a ton of talent,” Abreu said of Severino through a translator. “He’s a very good pitcher and I just wish the best for him. He was very good today.”
The crowd of 38,690 on a crisp September afternoon pushed attendance at Yankee Stadium over 3 million for the 17th straight year (3,036,446) with four home dates left. With New York going 3-for-19 with runners in scoring position, the Bronx ballpark was absent of much late-season buzz.
Ackley had a drive into the second deck in right leading off the sixth to make it 2-0. He has 11 hits in his last 28 at-bats (.392), putting himself in contention for a post-season roster spot.
“I think he’s healthy and he’s made some slight adjustments,” Manager Joe Girard said. “He’s worked really hard and got himself in the mix.”
Justin Wilson gave up a homer to pinch-hitter Avisail Garcia the seventh.
(HOWIE RUMBERG, AP Baseball Writer)