CHICAGO (Reuters) - The New York Yankees held off the Chicago Cubs for a narrow 4-3 win in interleague play at a sold-out Wrigley Field Saturday.
Eduardo Nunez's double in the ninth inning scored Robinson Cano to push the Yankees lead to 4-2 but when Nick Swisher tried to extend the lead further from first base on the hit, he was thrown out at home plate for New York's final out.
"I think Nunie (Nunez) deserves enough credit for what he did in the ninth," Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner said. "The double that he hit to left-center ended up being the game-winning hit."
The insurance run proved to be just enough as Mariano Rivera gave up a solo home run to Reed Johnson in the bottom of the ninth but the Panamanian preserved the victory for Yankees starter A.J. Burnett with his 17th save of the season.
Gardner's defense also played a pivotal role in New York's victory.
With the Yankees leading 3-2, Gardner caught a fly ball by Geovany Soto and threw a strike to home plate to get Carlos Pena out for an inning-ending double play.
Pena collided heavily with Yankees catcher Russell Martin in an attempt to knock the ball loose, but to no avail.
"We had to try it," Pena said. "I thought it was the right thing to do. He (Martin) was blocking the plate.
"There was only one way to get to home plate, and that was through him. He took a hit like a champ and held onto the ball, and it was a great play by him, so hats off."
The Yankees built a 2-0 lead in the third inning but Pena's two-run homer pulled the Cubs even in the fourth. Nunez scored in the top of the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly by Curtis Granderson to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead.
Starter Ryan Dempster took the loss for the Cubs, allowing three runs on eight hits and six walks while striking out six in 5.1 innings.
(Reporting by Mike Mouat in Windsor, Ontario; Editing by Ian Ransom)