Alex Rodriguez launched two home runs to lift the New York Yankees out of their funk with a 6-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday.
New York’s slugger pounded a homer in the fourth inning to tie the game at 1-1, then hit the go-ahead solo blast in the sixth to send the Yankees on their way to snapping a six-game losing streak.
“[It was] desperation. We needed to win, we hadn’t won in a while and hopefully this is the start of something good,” Rodriguez told reporters.
The losing stretch had provoked some controversy with slumping catcher Jorge Posada asking to be left out of the lineup on Saturday when he was dropped in the batting order.
Posada added two hits on Tuesday to help the Yankees (21-19) turn the corner and move within two games of the American League East-leading Rays (24-18).
“It feels good to be back in the lineup and to be able to produce,” Posada said. “It was a matter of getting a good performance from [starting pitcher Ivan Nova] and going to work.”
Nova recorded the win after tossing 5-1/3 innings and allowing one run. New York scored two runs in the seventh and two in the ninth to put the game out of reach.
Brett Gardner went 3-for-4 and had an RBI in the ninth, when New York Captain Derek Jeter had an RBI single.
Tampa Bay’s James Shields struck out nine batters but allowed four runs in seven innings to fall to 4-2 for the season.
Elliot Johnson hit a home run in the third to give the Rays the early lead. The home team also loaded the bases with one out in the sixth, but reliever David Robertson came on to pitch the Yankees out of the jam.
TWINS 2, MARINERS 1
In Seattle, Francisco Liriano outdueled Felix Hernandez as Minnesota ended a nine-game losing streak with a victory over Seattle.
Liriano (3-5), who threw a no-hitter May 3 against the Chicago White Sox, was nearly as stingy. He allowed three singles, walked one and had a season-high nine strikeouts. Matt Capps got the final three outs for his sixth save in eight opportunities.
Hernandez (4-4) allowed three hits and two runs in eight innings. He walked three and struck out nine.
The Twins’ victory came on the day that one of the team’s greatest players, Harmon Killebrew, died at his Scottsdale, Arizona home.
In other AL action, it was:
‧ Indians 7, Royals 3
‧ White Sox 4, Rangers 3
‧ Athletics 14, Angels 0
AP, ATLANTA, GEORGIA
Brian McCann leveled the game with a pinch-hit, two-out homer in the ninth inning, then hit a two-run shot in the 11th to lead the Atlanta Braves past the Houston Astros 3-1 on Tuesday.
The Braves were trailing 1-0 and down to their final strike in the ninth when McCann drove a 1-2 pitch the opposite way, the ball just clearing the wall in left-center.
The All-Star catcher stayed in the game behind the plate and two innings later, he ended it with his fourth homer of the season — a towering drive down the right-field line, just inside the foul pole against Jeff Fulchino (0-2).
Cory Gearrin (1-1) escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the top of the 11th and was rewarded with his first career win.
At Denver, Carlos Gonzalez’s two-run single off Javier Lopez capped a four-run eighth-inning rally as Colorado surged back into first place in the NL West with a win over San Francisco.
Gonzalez, whose three-run homer off Tim Lincecum propelled Colorado past the Giants on Monday night, sent a fastball to right field to snap a 3-3 tie and make a winner of Matt Belisle (4-2), who worked one inning of relief.