CHICAGO - The most significant contact of a crazy afternoon of baseball Wednesday at Wrigley Field very well might have been the 8-10 feet Preston Claiborne covered in the 13th inning with a sacrifice bunt.
The relief pitcher, called on to step in a batter's box for the first time in seven years, since a stint in the Cape Cod League, put down a picture-perfect sacrifice bunt with two on and none out.
The bunt advanced both runners, opening the door for the Yankees to score twice and earn a 4-2 win over the Cubs in 13 innings in front of 34,808.
"That's hard, especially with the shadows , you can't see too well," Derek Jeter said. "That was a huge part of the game. It's tough to do."
Joe Girardi had little choice but to send Claiborne, who came in to pitch with one out in the 11th. He batted in the 13th against Jose Veras, who allowed an infield single to Brendan Ryan and a walk to Yangervis Solarte to start the inning. Out of position players, Girardi said his other choices were to have Masahiro Tanaka or another one of his starting pitchers go up to bunt.
Instead, he stuck with the 26-year-old Claiborne, in large part because of his age.
"Sometimes in your mind, you think the closer they are to high school or that sort of thing, the better chance they have," Girardi said. "Because they were probably position players as well. Larry [Rothschild] said, 'I think he can get it done,' and I said, 'Let's do it then.' "
So Claiborne, a third baseman in high school, strode to the plate without batting gloves, his instructions clear: Get one down, which he did on Veras' first pitch, an 89-mph sinker.
"It was one of those things I had to commit to and I did my best to," said Claiborne, who handled the bat very infrequently during drills in spring training. "I was just trying to deaden it, get it in the grass. I knew I was going to have one opportunity at this. I just told myself, don't bail on your teammates. Just hang in there."
Veras' wild pitch brought in Ryan and John Ryan Murphy's single made it 4-2.
"He looked like a No. 2 hitter, that was NL stuff," said Ryan, who spent 2007-2010 with the Cardinals. "They had the wheel play on that makes it extra difficult. But you can't roll it out there any better."
The Yankees (24-21) rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the ninth against Cubs closer Hector Rondon. Mark Teixeira (1-for-6) started the inning with a single. A walk to Brian McCann -- Ryan pinch ran -- and a single by Solarte loaded the bases. Ichiro Suzuki smacked a grounder to short where Starlin Castro threw to second, hoping to start a 6-4-3 double play. Teixeira came in as the out was recorded at second, but second baseman Darwin Barney threw wildly to first, allowing Ryan to cross the plate to tie it at 2.
Matt Daley (Garden City) kept it there into the 10th, part of an overall superb effort by the bullpen, which allowed one run in 8 2/3 innings. Rookie starter Chase Whitley turned in a second straight solid start, -- one run and six hits in 41/3 innings.
With a runner on third and one out in the fifth and needing a strikeout, Girardi called on Dellin Betances, who struck out the first batter he faced, part of a perfect 12/3 innings in which he struck out three.
Claiborne (2-0) picked up the win, pitching 12/3 scoreless innings and David Robertson pitched a scoreless bottom of the 13th to record his ninth save in as many chances.
"Just a great effort by a lot of guys today," Girardi said. "Long day."