Yankees 15, Orioles 3

As Alex Rodriguez moves up the charts in several impressive

categories, he has come to accept his place among baseball’s

greatest players.

Rodriguez hit a milestone grand slam and drove in six runs, CC

Sabathia earned his first win of the season and the New York

Yankees pounded the Baltimore Orioles 15-3 on Saturday night.

Rodriguez connected with the bases full against Josh Rupe in a

seven-run eighth inning. It was his 22nd career slam, pushing him

past Manny Ramirez into second place on the career list behind only

Lou Gehrig (23).

”It’s definitely exciting. I appreciate the moment,” Rodriguez

said. ”I think I’ve grown and matured to a level now where I can

appreciate it some and not just brush it off like I did in the

past.”

The six RBIs also lifted Rodriguez past Carl Yastrzemski into

10th place on the career RBI list (1,847), according to Elias

Sports Bureau.

”Without question, I’m going to appreciate (the

accomplishments) a lot more once I’m done playing,” he said. ”But

overall, I played with a lot of great players. Numbers like RBIs

and wins and championships, you need 25 guys, 24 other guys helping

you.”

A-Rod had plenty of help in this blowout. Russell Martin homered

twice, and Jorge Posada and Brett Gardner also connected for the

Yankees, who lead the majors with 35 home runs.

Sabathia (1-1) allowed three runs and six hits in eight innings,

striking out seven and walking one. The performance came one night

after his scheduled start was postponed by a rainout.

”Maybe that extra day did help him,” manager Joe Girardi said.

”I saw him (Friday) and he looked OK, but you know he had a

low-grade fever and wasn’t feeling great.”

Sabathia came in with a 2.52 ERA, but was winless after four

starts for only the third time in his career.

The left-hander’s elusive first victory of the year came against

a team he has dominated for years. In 21 starts against Baltimore,

he’s 15-2 with a 2.89 ERA.

What’s up with that?

”I have no idea because the lineup is always different,”

Sabathia said. ”It’s just one of those things, one of those

parks.”

But the story was Rodriguez, whose ability to repeatedly come up

with a clutch hit is probably no accident.

”It credits the amount of work he’s been able to do, and how

gifted and talented he is when you get guys on,” teammate Curtis

Granderson said. ”The guy never cracks and just takes advantage of

all the opportunities.”

Adam Jones homered for the Orioles, who have lost 27 of their

last 34 games against New York.

Brad Bergesen (0-3) gave up six runs and eight hits in six

innings. He’s 0-3 with a 7.29 ERA in four career starts against the

Yankees.

”It’s a great hitting lineup, and a couple pitches really hurt

me,” Bergesen said. ”This lineup, you’re not going to get away

with a whole lot and it was evident tonight.”

Four of the first five New York batters reached base in a

three-run first inning. After Derek Jeter singled and took third on

Mark Teixeira’s double, Rodriguez hit a two-run double and Robinson

Cano capped the uprising with an RBI single.

After one turn through the lineup, the Yankees produced three

runs on five hits. Baltimore, in contrast, went 0 for 9 with three

strikeouts.

Sabathia retired the first 11 batters before Derrek Lee singled

with two outs in the fourth.

Bergesen rebounded from his shaky start to pitch well through

the fifth inning, but in the sixth he gave up a single to Cano and

walked Nick Swisher before Martin homered.

Jones hit a three-run drive in the seventh, but New York pulled

away in the eighth against three Baltimore relievers. Posada hit a

two-run shot off Jason Berken and Martin immediately followed with

his sixth home run of the season. Then, after the Yankees loaded

the bases against Jeremy Accardo, Rodriguez hit a 2-0 pitch into

the left field seats.

Before that outburst, New York was the only team in the majors

that had not scored at least four runs in an inning.

After Rupe hit Martin in the back with a pitch in the ninth,

Gardner hit his first homer of the season.

Rupe said the brushback pitch was completely accidental.

”I had no intent to hit him. I looked at the video and it

didn’t look good,” the pitcher said. ”But there’s no way that I

would intentionally go at somebody’s head or go way up there. I

know how to hit a guy when the situation calls for it and that

wasn’t it. No, I wouldn’t do it.”

Notes: Cano extended his hitting streak to 12 games. He’s 19 for

49 (.388) during that span. … Brian Roberts has hit in 10

straight for Baltimore. … Jeter (2 for 17), Gardner (0 for 16)

and Posada (2 for 20) ended prolonged slumps.