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Big Unit no-hits ChiSox through six; Yankees escape

CHICAGO (AP) -- Randy Johnson is a month shy of his 43rd
birthday, and what matters most to him these days is winning games.

He might not be the dominant pitcher he once was, but there are
still nights when he can take control of a game with sizzling
fastballs and long-legged deliveries that baffle opposing hitters.

Johnson tossed six innings of no-hit ball, Bobby Abreu hit one
of three Yankees homers off Jon Garland to end his eight-game
winning streak, and New York held off the Chicago White Sox 7-6
Wednesday night.

"After throwing a perfect game and a no-hitter, anything that
happens on a day that I pitch that's going to go beyond winning --
striking out 20 or throwing a no-hitter -- that's a bonus," Johnson
said.

Mariano Rivera bounced back from a blown save Tuesday, getting
four outs for his 29th save in 32 chances. He retired Jim Thome on
a grounder with runners at the corners to end it, and New York
extended its AL East lead to three games over Boston.

The defending World Series champion White Sox dropped into third
place in the AL Central.

With the Yankees leading 7-0, Tadahito Iguchi broke up Johnson's
bid for his third career no-hitter when he lined an 0-2 pitch to
left for a leadoff single in the seventh.

"It's fun to be on that roll, but if I give up a base hit, it
doesn't matter as long as we win the game," Johnson said. "I
threw two sliders that got him 0-2 and threw him a fastball that
wasn't located like the fastballs earlier in the game."

The Big Unit lost his shutout, too, and then the Yankees nearly
lost the game.

After Thome walked, Paul Konerko hit an RBI double. When
Jermaine Dye followed with another run-scoring double off the top
of the right-field fence, Johnson's night was over and New York's
lead had been cut to 7-2.

Johnson pitched a perfect game at age 40 for the Diamondbacks
against the Braves on May 18, 2004 -- his last shutout and the last
no-hitter in the major leagues. He also threw a no-hitter for the
Mariners in 1990 against Detroit.

"It felt good to get the first hit. It was something we needed
to do to get a spark," Iguchi said.

Ron Villone relieved Johnson and walked Joe Crede to load the
bases but escaped by inducing two weak popups and getting Brian
Anderson to fly out.

The White Sox rallied again against Kyle Farnsworth in the
eighth as Iguchi hit a solo homer and Crede delivered a three-run
shot to make it 7-6.

Yankees manager Joe Torre then brought in Rivera, who blew a
save Tuesday night when he gave up a ninth-inning homer to Konerko.
This time, the All-Star reliever closed it out.

"I am never comfortable," Torre said. "You never know when
enough is enough and tonight certainly proved that."

Johnson (12-9) gave up three hits and two runs in six-plus
innings, walking two and striking out five.

"He was the best I've seen him in a long time," White Sox
manager Ozzie Guillen said. "He was lights out."

Melky Cabrera and Robinson Cano also homered off Garland (12-4),
who hadn't lost since June 8 over a stretch of 10 appearances,
including nine starts. He lasted six-plus innings, giving up 10
hits and six runs.

Cabrera hit his sixth homer leading off the fifth to give
Johnson a 2-0 lead. After Garland walked Derek Jeter one batter
later, Abreu hit his first homer in eight games since joining New
York in a July 30 trade from the Phillies. The long shot to center
also ended a stretch of 163 at-bats without a homer for Abreu, the
longest drought of his career.

Cano connected on another long drive to center to lead off the
sixth, giving Johnson a five-run cushion. The Yankees made it 7-0
in the seventh, chasing Garland. Alex Rodriguez had a run-scoring
single off reliever David Riske, and Jorge Posada added an RBI
grounder.

Garland gave up three straight hits to open the game but escaped
with just one run scoring. Johnny Damon hit his second pitch off
the center-field wall for a triple but held at third when Jeter
reached on an infield single. Abreu followed with an RBI single,
but Garland got Rodriguez to hit into a double play before Posada
lined out.

Game notes
In his previous two starts -- a loss and a no-decision --
Johnson did not strike out a batter but took care of that
immediately by fanning White Sox leadoff hitter Pablo Ozuna. ...
Damon left in the fourth with a stiff right groin. ... Abreu hit
eight homers for the Phillies. ... Johnson is 12-4 lifetime against
the White Sox and 5-2 at U.S. Cellular Field. ... Jason Giambi, hit
on the elbow with a pitch Tuesday night, did not play. Bernie Williams started as the DH for New York and then entered in center
field in the eighth inning, a move that put Farnsworth into the
batting order.