A-Rod, Sabathia lead Yankees past Athletics
OAKLAND – Coming to the plate with the bases loaded always seems to bring the best out of Alex Rodriguez.
That was the case once again Tuesday night against All-Star Trevor Cahill.
Rodriguez hit his 21st career grand slam and added a solo shot for his 597th home run, helping CC Sabathia win his seventh straight start in the New York Yankees’ 6-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics.
“I like RBIs because that helps the team win,” Rodriguez gave as an explanation for his bases-loaded success. “That’s for sure. Today they were big for CC.”
Rodriguez connected with the bases loaded in the third inning to tie Manny Ramirez for the second most slams. He is now 7 for 13 with 24 RBIs this season with the bases loaded, with more than a third of his 67 RBIs coming in those situations. He is batting .353 in his career with the bases loaded and needs only two more slams to tie Lou Gehrig for the most ever.
A-Rod shows he can have just as much success in other situations, adding a solo shot in the sixth inning off Cahill (8-3) to lead the Yankees to their fourth straight win.
Sabathia (11-3) got the best of a matchup between All-Star pitchers, getting a rare win the stadium he used to come to as a kid. Sabathia grew up in nearby Vallejo and made frequent trips to the Coliseum to watch the A’s and Raiders, but for some reason always struggled here.
He lost four straight starts and held a 7.12 ERA before winning in Oakland last August. He has now won two of his past three starts in Oakland.
“I’m over the whole coming here and trying to do too much,” Sabathia said. “I’ve pitched here a lot in the last 10 years. It’s just another place to come play now.”
Sabathia allowed one run and seven hits in 7 2-3 innings, perhaps finally putting an end to whatever hex the A’s had over him. He left after striking out Kurt Suzuki for his season-high 10th K of the game, getting a standing ovation from many of the fans who were left.
Sabathia also became the first Yankee to win seven straight starts since Roger Clemens had an eight-start streak in 2001. He has a 1.88 ERA since June 3, reversing a stretch in which he went five straight starts without a win.
“It’s what he did for us last year,” manager Joe Girardi said. “We’re all used to seeing it. CC has been an ace for a long time, whether it’s been in this league or the National League. He’s on a string right now and he’s pitching great.”
Rodriguez made sure he had an easy time of it this game. Derek Jeter barely beat a relay from second on a potential double-play grounder to drive in New York’s first run and extend the third inning. Cahill then hit Mark Teixeira in the back with an 0-2 pitch to load the bases.
Rodriguez connected with a 3-1 pitch for his third slam of the season to make it 5-1.
“It was supposed to be a 2-seamer but I didn’t see the finger,” Cahill said. “It was probably the only 4-seamer I threw all night. I didn’t want to walk in a run in that situation so I went after him. A guy like that is going to hit that pitch. He beat me again.”
Rodriguez’s solo homer in the sixth gave him his first multihomer game of the season and 55th of his career. A-Rod says he can sense the 600 milestone coming, especially when he’s back in New York, where people remind him on the street and his homer total flashes on the big screen at Yankee Stadium.
“I’m looking at 600 as first base,” he said. “I want to run right through it and use it as a platform and a spring board for more to come.”
Cahill, who had won seven straight decisions, had little trouble with the rest of the lineup, allowing only two other hits in six innings of work. The six runs he allowed were his most since giving up eight in his first start of the season April 30 at Toronto.
Sabathia allowed an RBI double to Kevin Kouzmanoff in the first and didn’t face any trouble again until the fifth inning, when the A’s put runners on first and second with one out.
Teixeira then made a long run to catch a popup by Rajai Davis near the first-base dugout for the second out. Sabathia walked Coco Crisp to load the bases before getting a called third strike on a full count to Daric Barton, who slammed his bat down in disgust and was immediately ejected by plate umpire Mike Winters.
“I’m just tired of getting struck out on pitches that aren’t strikes,” Barton said.
Notes: Rodriguez has 21 home runs at the Coliseum, the most by a visiting player. Rafael Palmeiro hit 20. … New York’s nine grand slams are one shy of the club record set in 1987. … Yankees reliever Alfredo Aceves had a third epidural in his ailing back Tuesday. He will spend three days in New York with a physical therapist before returning to Tampa to continue rehab. … C Jorge Posada returned to the Yankees’ lineup after missing Monday’s game with an injured left ring finger.
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