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The White Sox pulled out all the stops Tuesday night in seizing a 2-1 victory over the New York Yankees:
Mercurial Jose Contreras threw what he described as the best game of his career by pitching seven-plus scoreless innings against his former team.
Tadahito Iguchi, the Sox's latest power hitter, hit an opposite-field home run in the fourth.
Paul Konerko provided timely insurance by hitting a homer in the ninth.
Manager Ozzie Guillen even called on closer Dustin Hermanson, who pitched despite recurring back pain, to induce pinch-hitter Bernie Williams to line out to backup first baseman Geoff Blum with two outs in the ninth and the tying and winning runs on base.
For added measure, a fan, Scott Harper, fell from the upper deck while the Yankees' Derek Jeter laid down a sacrifice bunt in the eighth. The backstop netting that protects fans sitting in the lower deck behind home plate saved the fan.
He slowly crawled on the netting to the club level, where three security officers grabbed and escorted him away.
"That's New York," said Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, who alerted home plate umpire Mike Winters to the mishap before play was ready to resume. "Anything can happen."
For Contreras (7-6), this was a statement game to the Yankees, who gave up on him less than two years after giving him a four-year, $32 million contract.
Contreras constantly kept the formidable Yankees' lineup off-balance with superb command of his split-finger fastball.
"I hope he brings the same attitude in his next start [against Minnesota on Monday]," Guillen said. "It seems like every time he pitches against a good-hitting team like Cleveland and the Cubs, he throws a tremendous game. And when he pitches against a team with more kids, he becomes wild."
Contreras walked two and hit Alex Rodriguez, but the Yankees never had two runners on base against him after the first.
"The funny thing about Contreras is that he doesn't get hit that much," Guillen said. "He hits batters, walks people and wild pitches. That's the thing that has killed him this year."
Contreras looked very comfortable facing his former team, which dealt him on July 31, 2004, to the Sox because they believed Esteban Loaiza was more seasoned for the playoff race.
Loaiza went 1-2 with an 8.50 ERA in 10 games for the Yankees and wasn't re-signed last winter.
"I'm just happy I got the team the victory because I feel I let the team down in the first half," Contreras said.
Iguchi gave Contreras a cushion with his 10th homer over the right-field wall and upstaged fellow Japanese countryman Hideki Matsui of the Yankees.
"In Japan, they only show the Yankees' games and the Mariners' games, so it [the homer] is significant," Iguchi said through his translator.
Konerko's homer off Alan Embree, however, proved just as essential for the Sox (73-39) because Rodriguez hit Cliff Politte's first pitch of the ninth over the left-field fence.
Rodriguez's homer was his 19th this season at Yankee Stadium, tying a club record for right-handed hitters shared by Joe DiMaggio (1937) and Gary Sheffield (2004).
Hermanson would have started the ninth if his back had felt fine.
But left-hander Damaso Marte relieved Politte and walked Jason Giambi and Tino Martinez, both left-handed hitters, forcing Guillen to use Hermanson.
After the game, Hermanson sported a thick wrap around his lower back while revealing his back started aching last weekend when he saved three games during a four-day span.
"It's nothing I want to pitch with, but I'll do everything I can to get through this," Hermanson said.