Yankees keep pounding away
Mark Teixeira, Nick Swisher, Johnny Damon, and Derek Jeter all know the secret to success at the new Yankee Stadium: Hit the ball in the air to right field.
Four more home runs by the Yankees at baseball's $1.5 billion bandbox - all to right - backed Andy Pettitte in a 5-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays last night, the start of what figures to be a challenging week for New York.
"I just think we didn't hit enough balls to right-center. There's a conveyor-belt effect out there," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "It's kind of like a jet stream."
Teixeira's solo homer in the first and Swisher's two-run drive in the second built a 3-0 lead, but the Rays tied the score in the fourth after Alex Rodriguez bobbled Ben Zobrist's leadoff grounder to third for an error.
Michel Hernandez had an RBI single and Gabe Kapler followed with a two-run home run to left, Kapler's first homer since Sept. 7 for Milwaukee.
Solo homers by Damon in the sixth and Jeter in the eighth finished Andy Sonnanstine (4-6), who gave up four homers for the first time in his big league career.
There have been 105 homers in 29 games at the new ballpark, a sharp increase from the 160 last season at the previous Yankee Stadium, and 63 have been hit to right and right-center. New York won despite finishing with just six hits - and no plate appearances with runners in scoring position for the first time since May 14, 2006.
"As long as we get the hits and they fly out of the ballpark, it's a good thing," Damon said.
New York improved the AL's best record to 34-23 and opened a one-game lead over the Red Sox in the AL East. The Yankees open a three-game series at Fenway Park tonight.
Pettitte (6-2) allowed three runs - two earned - and five hits in six innings, striking out a season-high seven and walking three.
Phil Hughes followed with a 1-2-3 seventh in his first major league regular-season relief outing after 28 starts. Phil Coke followed with a hitless eighth and Mariano Rivera finished for save No. 496, his 14th in 15 chances this year.
Braves 7, Pirates 6 - David Ross's bases-loaded infield single in the 15th boosted host Atlanta in a game that lasted nearly five hours.
Ross hit the grounder to shortstop Jack Wilson, whose throw to the third-base side of home plate pulled catcher Jason Jaramillo's foot off the plate as Jeff Francoeur scored. It was Bobby Cox's 2,000th victory as Braves manager.
Athletics 4, Twins 3 - Jack Cust hit a go-ahead solo home run, Jack Hannahan tied the game with a three-run double, and host Oakland extended its best winning streak in three years to seven games.
Rookie Josh Outman (4-0) recovered from an early deficit to continue an impressive run by the A's young staff.
Marlins 4, Giants 0 - Sean West did not allow a hit until the seventh inning in his fourth career start and Brett Carroll hit his first career home run to lift host Florida.
West (1-1) allowed one base runner - a leadoff walk to Andres Torres in the third - through six innings. Edgar Renteria then lined a single to left on West's first pitch of the seventh.
Tigers, 5-4; White Sox, 6-1 - Jose Contreras (1-5) allowed one hit in eight strong innings for his first win in nearly a year, pacing host Chicago to a Game 2 victory and split of the day-night doubleheader.
Alexei Ramirez, Scott Podsednik, and Jim Thome homered off Detroit's Jeremy Bonderman, who was making his first major league appearance since June 1, 2008. Bonderman had surgery June 30 last year to correct a condition that caused a blood clot in his pitching arm.
In the opener, the Tigers' Brandon Inge capitalized on a Chicago error by singling home the go-ahead run in the ninth.
Blue Jays 6, Rangers 3 - Adam Lind hit a pair of two-run homers to help Toronto snap a nine-game road losing streak.
It was Lind's first career multihomer game, and both shots came off Texas's Scott Feldman (5-1), who lost for the first time in nine starts.
Rockies 5, Cardinals 2 - Jason Marquis picked up his NL-leading eighth win and Troy Tulowitzki homered for the first time in nearly a month as Colorado completed a four-game sweep in St. Louis.
Padres 6, Diamondbacks 3 - Kevin Kouzmanoff tied a career high with four RBIs and Jake Peavy (7 IP, 2 ER) rebounded from the shortest start of his career for host San Diego.