new york – Alex Rodriguez is batting .204 – 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 Ibañez 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.
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.”