BALTIMORE (AP) — It's the time of year when milestones are far less important than victories, so for Alex Rodriguez, the significance of his 300th home run with the Yankees was solely that it helped New York regain sole possession of first place in the AL East.
Homers by Rodriguez, Russell Martin and Steve Pearce provided New York with a seven-run cushion in the fifth inning, and the Yankees held on to beat the Baltimore Orioles 8-5 on Friday night.
New York had lost eight of 11 to the Orioles, including the opener of this four-game series between division rivals that runs through Sunday.
Rodriguez chased rookie Wei-Yin Chen with a two-run drive in the fifth — the 645th home run of his career. Only five players have more homers in a Yankees uniform than A-Rod, who obviously isn't keeping track of such things.
"I had no idea I had 300," Rodriguez said. "The only numbers we're worried about right now is Ws. Whatever you are going to do for the year is already done. The numbers are done. We're worried about one thing and that's winning games."
Rodriguez, who also singled, extended his hitting streak to 11 games — his longest run since a 12-gamer in 2009. Wearing the replica green University of Miami jersey of linebacker Ray Lewis (now with the Baltimore Ravens), Rodriguez seemed more interested in talking about the team than himself.
"It was huge," Rodriguez said of the win. "Every game from now on is huge, especially when you get to September. One of the challenges I have for the offense is that we should be able to score six runs every night. If we're disciplined and put up great at-bats, six runs is a good number."
The pitching was decent, too.
Phil Hughes (14-12) allowed three runs, two earned, in six innings to end a streak of five straight road losses since June 15. The right-hander did, however, yield his 33rd home run, one less than Ervin Santana of the Angels, who gave up two Friday night.
In his previous start, Hughes gave up five runs and two homers in five innings Sunday at Yankee Stadium in an 8-3 loss to the Orioles.
Asked if he felt additional pressure pitching in a pennant race, Hughes said, "I treated it like any other game. I tried to pitch the best ball game I could. That doesn't really change start to start. It was a good win for us."
Adam Jones, Robert Andino and Manny Machado homered for the Orioles, who got three hits from Nate McLouth but missed a chance to move ahead of the Yankees for the first time since June 7.
Baltimore was backed by a near-sellout crowd of 40,861. But unlike Thursday night, when the Orioles hit six homers in a 10-6 win, most of the fans were silent at the end.