|N.Y. Yankees (45-32) «||0||0||1||0||1||2||0||0||x||4||9||0|
NEW YORK -- A little rest here and there has done wonders for Alex Rodriguez.
The streaking slugger hit a tiebreaking homer and Andy Pettitte pitched seven strong innings, leading the New York Yankees over the Seattle Mariners 4-2 on Wednesday night for their seventh consecutive victory.
A fatigued Rodriguez, who had hip surgery in March, was held out of the lineup June 19-20 in Florida. Soon after, his swing started to come around.
Now, the three-time MVP is on a hitting tear. In his last seven games, he is 10 for 23 (.435) with four homers, 13 RBI and 10 walks.
"I'm feeling better. I feel more energized out there," said Rodriguez, who also got a mini-break Wednesday as the designated hitter.
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"Even when I struggled, I never had an at-bat where I didn't feel like I was going to get the job done. My question is always, how is my body going to bounce back? Now that my body feels good, I think the results are better."
Johnny Damon and Melky Cabrera also went deep for the Yankees on a blustery night in the Bronx. New York overcame Ken Griffey Jr.'s 621st home run, winning its 10th straight home game against Seattle since Sept. 4, 2007.
Rodriguez and Griffey, former teammates in Seattle, pulled off a neat feat. The last time two players with at least 550 career homers connected in the same game was May 8, 1971, when Hank Aaron and Willie Mays did it, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
"Hitters can turn very quickly," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Alex is one of those players that can do a lot of damage in a short period of time. There aren't a lot of players like that in baseball, but Alex is one of them."
Mariano Rivera saved his third game in a row, increasing his career total to 502. The Yankees haven't trailed since the top of the sixth inning in Atlanta on Wednesday, when Girardi was ejected before the offense rallied. That was the start of the winning streak.
Pettitte (8-3) rebounded from a brief outing Thursday against the Braves, outpitching fellow lefty Jarrod Washburn in a game that took just 2 hours, 17 minutes. The Yankees (45-32) are a season-high 13 games over .500.
"Today was just a crisp game overall," Rodriguez said.
Cabrera's solo shot in the fifth was upheld by a replay review. There was no doubt about Rodriguez's two-run drive to center off Washburn (4-6) in the sixth, No. 566 of his career. He is three behind Rafael Palmeiro for 10th place.
"It was a pretty good pitch probably to most guys. But not to him," Washburn said. "I think if I'd have had it up a little more, it might have given him more trouble. He's a great low-ball hitter."
Rodriguez also hit a tiebreaking home run in the seventh inning of Tuesday night's 8-5 victory.
Pettitte shut down major league batting leader Ichiro Suzuki, who went 0 for 4, ending a 12-game hitting streak. Batting second behind Suzuki, Russell Branyan struck out all four times up -- snapping his career-best hitting streak at 10 games.
"Offensively, the key to this game is Pettitte," Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. "He changed speeds and I think for the first time all year, kept Ichiro and Branyan hitless. If we get any offense at all, we'd have given Wash a chance to win this game."
It was the 60th time Rivera has saved a win for Pettitte, adding to their big league record.
The Yankees will go for their second consecutive sweep Thursday night with CC Sabathia on the mound. Seattle had won eight of its past nine series.
Cabrera hit a drive over the left-field foul pole in the fifth and umpires went inside for a look at the replay. Less than three minutes later, they emerged and upheld the original call of home run, giving New York a 2-1 edge.
Griffey tied it in the sixth with a homer to the short porch in right. As he rounded the bases, he received a smattering of applause from the crowd of 45,285.
With his first homer at the new Yankee Stadium, Griffey has connected in 44 major league ballparks -- one shy of Sammy Sosa's record.
|Alex Rodriguez (right) hits a tiebreaking homer in the later innings for the second night in a row. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Ichiro Suzuki, RF||4||0||0||0||0||0||1||.368|
|Russell Branyan, 1B||4||0||0||0||0||4||0||.298|
|Jose Lopez, 2B||4||1||1||0||0||0||0||.258|
|Ken Griffey Jr., DH||4||1||2||1||0||0||1||.219|
|Franklin Gutierrez, CF||3||0||2||0||1||0||0||.278|
|Wladimir Balentien, LF||3||0||0||1||0||1||2||.225|
|Chris Woodward, 3B||3||0||0||0||0||1||2||.333|
|Rob Johnson, C||3||0||1||0||0||0||2||.187|
|Ronny Cedeno, SS||3||0||0||0||0||0||1||.136|
|2B - Jose Lopez (14, Pettitte)|
|HR - Ken Griffey Jr. (10, Pettitte)|
|RBI - Ken Griffey Jr. (26), Wladimir Balentien (10)|
|2-OUT RBI - Ken Griffey Jr. (11)|
|CS - Franklin Gutierrez (4, 2nd base by Pettitte/Posada)|
|PK - Wladimir Balentien (1, Pettitte)|
|Team LOB - 3|
|DP - Cedeno-J. Lopez-Branyan, Woodward-Branyan, J. Lopez-Cedeno-Branyan|
|Jarrod Washburn (L,4-6)||7||8||4||4||1||6||3||3.36|
|HBP - Jeter (by Jarrod Washburn)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Jarrod Washburn 100-60, Miguel Batista 8-6|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jarrod Washburn 6-7, Miguel Batista 2-0|
|Batters Faced - Jarrod Washburn 29, Miguel Batista 3|
|New York Yankees|
|Derek Jeter, SS||3||0||1||0||0||0||0||.307|
|Johnny Damon, LF||3||1||1||1||1||1||2||.292|
|Mark Teixeira, 1B||4||1||2||0||0||1||0||.278|
|Alex Rodriguez, DH||4||1||2||2||0||0||1||.239|
|Jorge Posada, C||4||0||0||0||0||2||1||.268|
|Robinson Cano, 2B||3||0||1||0||0||0||0||.300|
|Nick Swisher, RF||3||0||1||0||0||1||0||.238|
|Brett Gardner, CF||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.289|
|Melky Cabrera, CF-RF||3||1||1||1||0||0||1||.287|
|Cody Ransom, 3B||3||0||0||0||0||1||0||.190|
|HR - Johnny Damon (15, Washburn), Alex Rodriguez (13, Washburn), Melky Cabrera (8, Washburn)|
|RBI - Johnny Damon (47), Alex Rodriguez 2 (41), Melky Cabrera (32)|
|2-OUT RBI - Johnny Damon (21)|
|Team LOB - 4|
|New York Yankees|
|Andy Pettitte (W,8-3)||7||6||2||2||1||5||1||4.25|
|Alfredo Aceves (H,3)||0.1||0||0||0||0||0||0||2.14|
|Phil Coke (H,6)||0.2||0||0||0||0||1||0||3.18|
|Mariano Rivera (S,20)||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||2.76|
|Pitches-Strikes - Andy Pettitte 97-63, Alfredo Aceves 5-2, Phil Coke 7-4, Mariano Rivera 15-11|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Andy Pettitte 7-7, Phil Coke 1-0, Mariano Rivera 3-0|
|Batters Faced - Andy Pettitte 26, Alfredo Aceves 1, Phil Coke 2, Mariano Rivera 3|
|Attendance - 45285|
|Game Time - 2:17|
|Temperature - 72|
|Umpires - Home - Dale Scott, First Base - Jerry Meals, Second Base - Mike DiMuro, Third Base - Ron Kulpa|