A-Rod helps keep Yanks on roll

New York - When the Yankees last won their first four series in a season, Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth anchored the middle of the batting order.

That was 1926, and even without extraordinarily fast starts since then, New York has dominated baseball.

Now the Yankees are spurting early again.

Alex Rodriguez passed Mark McGwire for eighth place with his 584th home run, Derek Jeter also connected, and A.J. Burnett pitched seven shutout innings Saturday to lead the surging Yankees over the Texas Rangers, 7-3.

For the Yankees, it was reminiscent of the way they played down the stretch last year en route to their first World Series title since 2000.

“We’ve got the same feel,” said Brett Gardner, who had three of New York’s six infield hits. “It doesn’t matter where we’re at in the game or what the score, we feel like we’ve got the guys to come back and win if we’re down.”

New York didn’t have to worry about rallying, knocking out Scott Feldman (1-1) after 2 innings and taking a 7-0 lead by the fourth.

After taking two of three against Boston, Tampa Bay and the Los Angeles Angels, the Yankees swept the opening two games of a three-game set against Texas.

Not since the first year Ruth and Gehrig started the season together had the Yankees won their first four series. The only other year they achieved the feat was 1922, when they were still playing at the Polo Grounds.

“I don’t necessarily always remember how you start. You remember how you finish, and that’s the important thing,” Joe Girardi said after his 200th win as Yankees manager. “I’m just happy with the way we’re playing right out of the gate, and obviously the more wins that you have in April, you know, the less that you maybe have to have in a later month.”

Rodriguez hit his first home run of the season in the fourth, a solo drive to right-center against Doug Mathis for a seven-run lead. A-Rod had gone homerless in his first 41 at-bats, his longest homerless streak at the start of a season since beginning 1995 without a homer in his first 48 at-bats for Seattle.

“They were all ragging on me that I hadn’t checked in yet,” Rodriguez said.

He didn’t dwell on passing Big Mac.

“I think there’ll be a time and a place for reflection, and that will be many years after I’m done playing.,” Rodriguez said.