Major Leagues: Yankees 5, Phillies 4: A-Rod, leads New York rally
By Ronald Blum
NEW YORK ó Alex Rodriguez is batting .204 ó and making his hits count.
Rodriguez hit a tying homer off Brad Lidge in the ninth inning and Melky Cabrera capped the three-run rally with an RBI single, giving the New York Yankees a 5-4 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday.
In 15 games since returning from hip surgery, Rodriguez has 10 hits. Seven are home runs, however, and the Yankees are 12-3 during that span.
“Right now, I’m probably the happiest .200 hitter in baseball,” Rodriguez said.
John Mayberry Jr. hit a three-run homer in his major league debut and Raul Ibanez also connected, helping the Phillies build a 4-2 lead for new starter J.A. Happ.
Lidge (0-2) came on in the ninth and immediately got in trouble. Johnny Damon drew a leadoff walk and stole second. After Mark Teixeira struck out, Rodriguez smacked a full-count pitch over the short porch in right.
“We went fastball away after throwing six sliders in a row,” Lidge said. “It was pretty impressive that he was able to do what he did. We didn’t expect him to hit it.”
Robinson Cano followed with a single, stole second and scored without a play on Cabrera’s single to right-center.
It was the third game-ending hit of the year for Cabrera, who has won back his center-field job after losing it last season.
“He’s doing great,” Cano said. “Last year he was really down, but he has worked hard to bring himself back.”
Cabrera raised his arms as he rounded first and dashed with glee all the way across the diamond as jubilant teammates chased him down to celebrate.
The Yankees have won 10 of 11 and are making a habit of these walk-off victories. They had three straight against Minnesota last weekend, and capped this one the same way: pitcher A.J. Burnett pelted Cano and Cabrera with a pie in the face as they waited to do an on-field interview ó even getting some whipped cream on radio broadcaster Suzyn Waldman.
For Rodriguez, it was his sixth homer in eight games and No. 560 of his career, three shy of Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson for 11th place.
“We had the last punch,” Rodriguez said. “We’re at home and we feel very comfortable.”
Like Rodriguez, Yankees captain Derek Jeter homered for the second straight day.
Lidge, who converted all 48 save chances in 2008 ó including the postseason ó during his first year in Philadelphia, has blown three of 11 opportunities this season. His ERA climbed to 9.16.
“His stuff’s good and his breaking ball’s good. Give them credit. He made some pitches and they hit ’em,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
Jose Veras (3-1) got one out in the ninth for the win.
The series finale is today, with World Series MVP Cole Hamels on the mound against New York’s CC Sabathia in a marquee matchup of ace left-handers.
In his second career at-bat, Mayberry lined a rocket to left field against Andy Pettitte in the fifth to snap a 1-all tie. Smiling in the stands and wearing a Phillies cap was Mayberry’s father, John, a two-time All-Star who hit 255 homers in 15 big league seasons.
In a neat twist, Mayberry Sr.’s final home run came for New York at the old Yankee Stadium on Aug. 8, 1982, against Texas. It also was a three-run shot, off lefty Jon Matlack.
“I didn’t know that,” said Mayberry Jr., who planned to have dinner with his dad after the game. “It’s kind of cool.”
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