Rodriguez kept up his unrelenting surge against the Indians -- six homers in five games -- and New York cruised to an 11-2 victory Saturday night that gave Mussina his 100th win with the Yankees, who have gone a month without slowing down.
"It's a good feeling, but a controlled feeling," said Rodriguez, who hit a pair of two-run homers. "We realize we've got a lot of work ahead and haven't accomplished anything."
He's being modest.
"We look great at the plate right now," Mussina said.
New York moved 14 games over .500 (65-51) for the first time this season, an emphatic turnaround for a team that was stranded 14½ games out of first place on May 29. The Yankees have stormed into contention in the AL East -- five games back of Boston -- by going 22-8 since the All-Star break, best in the majors.
By contrast, the AL Central-leading Indians are 13-16 since the break because of a slumping offense: Two or fewer runs in 11 of the last 19 games.
Rodriguez's two-run homer completed a seven-run second inning off Paul Byrd (10-5) that sapped the energy out of the fourth capacity crowd at Jacobs Field this season. A-Rod's 503rd career homer, off Edward Mujica in the eighth, completed his fifth multihomer game this season and the 49th of his career.
Since he became the youngest player to reach 500 homers last Saturday, A-Rod has relaxed and picked up momentum.
"No question," he said. "It's good to get that 500th home run out of the way and get back to playing baseball."
The two homers were more than enough for the 38-year-old Mussina (8-7), who became the 16th pitcher to win 100 games for the Yankees. The right-hander won his fourth straight start, allowing two runs and eight hits in 7 2/3 innings. For the third straight game, he didn't walk a batter.
Mussina is only the ninth pitcher in major league history to win 100 for two teams -- he had 147 victories with Baltimore.
He had the bat boy save a couple of baseballs, and stored the red-stitched mementos in a white plastic bag in his locker.
"There are not a lot of guys that have pitched for this team and pitched long enough to win that many games," Mussina said. "It's exciting. I'm glad I've had the chance to come here and pitch well enough and pitch long enough to accomplish it."
Against the Indians this season, the Yankees are 5-0 with a swagger. They swept three games in New York when they were struggling in April, and are one victory from doing it again in August.
"When I made a bad pitch, they hit it in the bleachers or crushed it over the shortstop's head," Byrd said. "They're hot right now. They're not the same team that took the field in April and May."
Byrd threw a shutout against the Twins on Monday, but couldn't make it past the second inning against one of the majors' most powerful lineups. The Yankees have scored at least six runs in 10 of their last 12 games.
"They're swinging the bats as good as you can swing them," Indians manager Eric Wedge said.
They've done it with balance, some bashing and a big dose of A-Rod.
Rodriguez has hit at least one homer in each of the five games against Cleveland this season. He got an errant full-count pitch from Byrd in the second inning and hit it over the wall in center, putting the final touch on New York's seven-run, 10-batter outburst.
Anyone who has followed the Indians knew it was over.
Cleveland inducted four players into its Hall of Fame before the game, including Andre Thornton, who played from 1977-87 when the Indians had trouble winning games and scoring runs.
Kind of like now.
The AL Central leaders ended one amazing slump when Victor Martinez hit a sacrifice fly in the first inning --the first time the Indians had scored in the opening inning since July 17, a streak of 23 games.
Then, it was back to usual -- two runs and done.
- C Jorge Posada was out of the Yankees' lineup for the second consecutive game with a stiff neck. He's expected to start on Sunday.
- RHP Jim Brower was in Minnesota with his wife, who gave birth to a daughter.
- CF Melky Cabrera extended his hitting streak to a career-high 16 games.
- It was Giambi's first homer since May 29, before he was sidelined by a foot injury.
- The Indians have lost 10 of their last 13 at Jacobs Field.
- It was Byrd's shortest outing since he retired only two Kansas City batters last Aug. 23.
- Cleveland DH Travis Hafner swung in the indoor batting cages. Hafner strained his left knee while sliding into second base Tuesday night and is expected to be out of the lineup a few more days.