NEW YORK – Alex Rodriguez rejoined the Yankees’ lineup and showed off All-Star form, hitting a home run that tied him with Lou Gehrig on the career list and leading New York to a wild 14-9 win over the Los Angeles Angels.
The Yankees overcame a bizarre play on the bases and a blown five-run lead to beat the only AL team to hold an edge over them since Joe Torre became their manager in 1996.
A day after a strained left hamstring forced him to miss his only game this year, Rodriguez hit a two-run homer in the sixth for a 12-9 lead. His 493rd homer matched Gehrig and Fred McGriff for 22nd place.
New York set season highs for runs and hits (19) – every starter had a hit and an RBI – and won for the fourth time in five games. The AL West leaders have lost seven of 10.
Robinson Cano was called out for missing third base on Miguel Cairo’s apparent two-run triple in the fifth. Umpire Doug Eddings – best known for the odd, dropped-third-strike call in the 2005 AL championship series –made the rare ruling that ended the inning, literally taking a run off the scoreboard and leaving the Yankees ahead 9-5.
Replays were inconclusive about whether Cano missed the base, but clearly showed Eddings and third baseman Chone Figgins watching closely. Figgins was the one who stepped on third to record the out, doing it while Cairo was standing on the base and “Triple” flashed on the scoreboard.
Cairo was credited with an RBI single. As Torre argued with Eddings, a groundskeeper changed the base to a bright, new one.
After Figgins’ two-out, two-run single off rookie Edwar Ramirez (1-0) tied it in the sixth, Rodriguez and the Yankees struck back in the bottom half off Chris Bootcheck (2-2).
Rodriguez also singled and doubled, ending his season-worst 0-for-19 slump. He scored three runs and made a couple of nifty plays at third base.
Rodriguez has still not said whether he’ll play in Tuesday night’s All-Star game. A decision was likely Saturday – A-Rod was the leading vote-getter in fan balloting.
Andy Pettitte failed to hold an 8-3 lead and Ramirez won in relief despite giving up Figgins’ tying hit. Ramirez is a former Angels minor leaguer who made a splash this week by striking out the side in his major league debut.
Rodriguez picked on a familiar victim early, getting two hits off Bartolo Colon. A-Rod is 22-for-47 (.468) with eight home runs against the righty.
Down 2-0, the Angels scored three runs in the third. Jose Molina bounced an RBI double into the left-field seats and Orlando Cabrera hit a two-out, two-run double.
New York scored six times in the third, chasing Colon and taking an 8-3 lead. Jorge Posada hit a sinking liner that bounced past diving right fielder Reggie Willits for a two-run double, and Cairo put down a suicide squeeze.
Colon and Pettitte each have won just one of their last eight starts.
Notes: The Yankees are 53-58 against the Angels in the Torre era. … Pettitte walked Maicer Izturis to start the fifth, only the fourth leadoff walk in the 119 innings the lefty has pitched. Twice, the opponents went on to score. … Izturis made the play of the night. The Angels 2B backhanded Posada’s grounder up the middle and flipped the ball with his glove to SS Cabrera, who completed a double play to end the sixth. … Johnny Damon started in left field for the first time since 2001 with Oakland, and did fine.