The way Yankees manager Joe Girardi sees it, the plan was working.
Then Clay Rapada threw the ball away.
Rapada's throwing error on a potential double-play grounder came one batter before Dayan Viciedo hit a three-run homer off David Robertson in the ninth inning that rallied the Chicago White Sox past New York 4-3 Thursday night.
"I was going to mix and match. It was the second day in a row for (Robertson) and I'm trying to be cautious," Girardi said. "He had somewhat of a short time down there rehabbing and we get the double-play ball, which I wanted from Rapada and we don't turn it."
With closer Rafael Soriano unavailable after saving four of the last five games, Robertson made back-to-back appearances for just the second time since returning from the disabled list June 14.
Robertson usually starts an inning when he is called upon.
"I would definitely say it's a little tougher," Robertson said of coming in with runners on base.
"You've got a clean inning, you've got an opportunity to maybe get an out and allow a walk or something like that or even give up a base hit and still find your way out of it because you've finally got your rhythm on the mound," he said.
The Yankees' five-game winning streak was snapped. But not before Derek Jeter almost saved the Yankees in the ninth.
His bid for a two-out, two-run homer was caught by right fielder Alex Rios with his back against the wall.
"They were playing no doubles, so it either goes out or he catches it," Jeter said. "He caught it."
Other than Alejandro De Aza, who homered and had four hits, the White Sox were unable to muster much against the Yankees' de facto ace Ivan Nova into the eighth. Chicago improved to 22-14 on the road, third best in the American League.
Mark Teixeira homered off New Jersey-born Hector Santiago (2-1) with two outs in the eighth to make it 3-1.
Rios led off the ninth with a single against Cody Eppley, and Rapada entered. A.J. Pierzynski bunted back to the mound and Rapada's poor throw put runners at first and third. Robertson (0-2) relieved and Viciedo drove a 1-0 pitch into the left-field stands.
"It's frustrating," Rapada said. "But I need to get right back out there tomorrow and do my job."
Addison Reed gave up a leadoff single to Dewayne Wise in the New York ninth. Eric Chavez then hit a fly to left and Wise was caught way off first base, but Viciedo's throw to first was offline for a possible double play. After pinch-hitter Andruw Jones struck out looking, Jeter flied out and Reed had his 11th save.
"I looked at the guys and said I know he's going to hit one to right," Jeter's former teammate and White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "I don't like seeing him too much."
Jeter had singled in the seventh to tie fellow shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. for 13th place on the career list with 3,184.
De Aza homered off the facing of the suite level in right field for the game's first run with two outs in the fifth. That was the lone run against Nova, who gave his manager reason to be hopeful about the Yankees' depleted rotation with an ace-like outing.
The Yankees took the lead right back against rookie Dylan Axelrod in the bottom half when Curtis Granderson singled with two outs and Alex Rodriguez followed with a drive to left-center. De Aza made a long run to track down the ball, but it hit off his glove as he neared the wall, falling for an RBI double.
Robinson Cano then gave the Yankees the lead with a double to right-center.
A day after receiving a double whammy of devastating injuries to the rotation, Girardi said he's not going to give the remaining three starters any sort of pep talk — unless he has to. In the meantime, CC Sabathia is on the disabled list with a groin strain and Andy Pettitte is out with a broken lower left leg.
Nova gave up six hits, three walks and a wild pitch, leaving with De Aza on second and one out in the eighth. The crowd of 44,041 gave him a loud ovation when he strolled off the field.
"Really good tonight. You take away De Aza, he was really, really good tonight," Girardi said. "I think he had four of the six hits off him, but he really threw the ball well."
Boone Logan relieved and got Adam Dunn to fly out, advancing De Aza to third. Eppley relieved and struck out Paul Konerko with a knee-buckling breaking pitch.
Axelrod was making his third start in place of the injured Phil Humber and had his longest outing. He allowed six hits and two runs in seven innings. It was his first outing in the Bronx.
"I was focused and tried to stare at A.J.'s glove," said Axelrod on how he fought off nervousness. "I think I did a pretty good job that."
NOTES: The Yankees purchased the contract of RHP Adam Warren from Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes/Barre and he'll start Friday in place of Sabathia. ... The White Sox purchased the contract of left-hander Leyson Septimo from Triple-A Charlotte and have designated reliever Will Ohman for assignment.