A-Rod’s 660th homer a game winner

Obviously, the best thing about Alex Rodriguez’s 660th home run, which tied him with Willie Mays for fourth place on the career list, was that it was a game winner for the Yankees. A-Rod admitted that he was disappointed when he saw that his name was not in the starting lineup Friday night at Fenway Park as manager Joe Girardi decided to load up on left-handed hitters against Red Sox righthander Justin Masterson.

The Boston starting pitcher was out of the game by the time Rodriguez got a chance to swing the bat in the eighth inning as a pinch hitter against another righthander, reliever Junichi Tazawa. The score was tied. The count went to 3-0. The green light was on. A-Rod swung at the next delivery and drove a smoking liner over the Green Monster for his first career pinch homer and a 3-2 Yankees lead, which held up thanks to the 1-2 punch of Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller in the bullpen.

It was an eventful way to start off the trip, a victory over division and traditional rival Boston on a chilly evening at Fenway where A-Rod’s major-league career began 21 years ago. Again, the bullpen came through with four scoreless innings of one-hit, three-strikeout relief. Miller secured his ninth save to preserve a winning decision for fellow reliever Esmil Rogers, who pitched a shutout seventh.

CC Sabathia went the first six innings and was dependable if not spectacular. The lefthander allowed only two runs but caught big breaks when potential RBI doubles bounced over fences to keep two other runners from scoring. Sabathia walked two batters and struck out three and remains winless for the season.

The Yankees got Sabathia off the hook in the seventh when his catcher, Brian McCann, tied the score with a two-out, RBI single, a rare clutch hit for the Yankees on a night when they stranded 12 base runners. Their first run was also delivered with two out, on a double by Carlos Beltran in the first inning.

The Red Sox took the lead in the fourth on Allen Craig’s first home run of the season. But it would be another home run that altered the course of the game for the Yankees.

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