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Kevin Youkilis’ grand slam lifts White Sox over Yankees

KevYoukilis receives high-five from an excited GordBeckham after hitting grslam give Sox 6-2 lead. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

Kevin Youkilis receives a high-five from an excited Gordon Beckham after hitting a grand slam to give the Sox a 6-2 lead. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: September 23, 2012 6:23AM



Everybody loves to talk about Kevin Youkilis’ approach at the plate, and rightly so. The White Sox third baseman makes pitchers work, sees a lot of pitches and patiently waits for one he can handle.

Every once in a while, though, Youkilis’ swing — and his approach — get out of whack. He found himself hitting .188 in his last 19 games.

The scuffling Youk showed signs of returning to form Tuesday night, when he hit a tiebreaking grand slam into the right-field bullpen against Ivan Nova to power the Sox to a 7-3 victory against the New York Yankees before 24,481 at U.S. Cellular Field.

“I’ve been working on a lot of things — staying calm at the plate, eliminating the lower half and being as balanced as I can,’’ Youkilis said. “The biggest thing is to not fight myself and do stupid stuff — try to do too much — and just let my hands do the work.’’

Youkilis, who downplayed the revenge factor for getting hit by Joba Chamberlain on Monday, said he was trying to hit a sacrifice fly. It was his 11th homer for the Sox, with whom he made a splash after being traded from the Boston Red Sox on June 24.

“I haven’t had that locked-in feeling since that first week I was here and then while we were in Boston [in mid-July],’’ Youkilis said. “I have to get that feeling back. I need consistency. Stick with an approach and trust it. Not let the game dictate what I need to do. Sometimes you think, with guys in scoring position, ‘I have to do something’ rather than having a good at-bat and sticking to your strengths.’’

Before the game, hitting coach Jeff Manto predicted Youkilis would get his groove back.

“His base [lower half] right now is a little off,’’ Manto said. “Once he gets better grounded with his legs, I think it’s going to get a lot better. He’s jumping. He’ll even tell you that. It will easily clean up.’’

Francisco Liriano (2-0 with the Sox) pitched six strong innings, allowing six hits and three walks while striking out seven. After giving up a homer to Derek Jeter on the first pitch, he gave up another run and pitched out of trouble in the first before settling into a groove.

It was Liriano’s fifth start for the Sox and his fourth in which he allowed two runs or fewer.

“I was trying to overthrow my pitches and trying to be too fine to the plate, missing my spot, getting behind in the count too much,’’ he said of the 31-pitch first inning.

The Sox won their second in a row against the American League East leaders after being on the losing end of a troubling three-game sweep in Kansas City over the weekend. They clinched their first season series win against the Yankees since 2003.

“I think in Kansas City we were just a little flat,’’ Youkilis said. “Playing Toronto on that turf for four days kind of eats you up a little bit. No excuses there.’’

The Sox’ theme of putting yesterday in the rear-view mirror was again in the forefront after this victory, which kept them two games ahead of the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central.

“They don’t have good memories,’’ manager Robin Ventura said.

Paul Konerko hit a game-tying home run in the fourth, Dewayne Wise had a career-high four hits and A.J. Pierzynski drove in Alex Rios (triple) with a sacrifice fly and tripled and scored on Gordon Beckham’s second single of the night.

After Jesse Crain allowed a home run to Russell Martin in the seventh, he got four consecutive outs before Matt Thornton and Brett Myers finished with hitless relief.



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