NEW YORK (AP) — Alex Rodriguez's record-breaking grand slam was a big one for the Yankees, who can only hope it came in time for a last-gasp run at the playoffs.
Rodriguez set a major league mark with his 24th career slam, passing Lou Gehrig with a tiebreaking shot in the seventh inning that sent New York to a 5-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Friday night.
"It means I'm getting old," said Rodriguez, 38. "It's hard to think about things like that right now. We're really on a sprint to the end here and every win is huge for us."
A-Rod's drive helped CC Sabathia (14-13) beat Tim Lincecum in a matchup of former Cy Young Award winners having subpar seasons.
More importantly for the Yankees, it carried them to their second win in seven games as they cling to faint playoff hopes.
New York, which has eight games remaining, pulled within three of the second AL wild card — with three other teams in between. The Indians' 2-1 rain-shortened win over Houston, moved them a half-game ahead of Texas, which began the day tied with Tampa Bay atop the standings but lost 2-1 to Kansas City. The Rays beat Baltimore in 18 innings to keep the lead.
"It's an unbelievable accomplishment and it's a big one for us," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I don't know if we can afford to lose any more games."
Alfonso Soriano also homered and New York opened its final homestand with a much-needed victory, hours after pitcher Andy Pettitte announced his plans to retire — again — following this season.
The news about Pettitte hardly came as a surprise, but the 41-year-old lefty put to rest any speculation he might be back next season. Pettitte, who stepped off the mound for a year before returning in 2012, is scheduled to start the series finale Sunday — the same day the Yankees will honor retiring closer Mariano Rivera in a pregame ceremony.
Rookie outfielder Juan Perez, back home in the Bronx, hit an RBI double for the Giants. The defending World Series champions have spent all week in New York — they took two of three from the Mets at Citi Field, where a large throng of vocal San Francisco fans made them feel right at home.
Giants rooters came out in the Bronx, too, easy to spot in their orange or black jerseys. An audible chant of "Let's go Giants!" quickly drew boos from Yankees fans in the crowd of 41,734.
"There's a lot of Giants fans here. I noticed that. They travel well," Rodriguez said.
With the score tied at 1, Eduardo Nunez grounded a single through the right side to start the seventh. Lincecum (10-14) hit Brendan Ryan with a pitch and walked Ichiro Suzuki with two outs, loading the bases and ending the right-hander's night.
Continue reading this story on the...