A-Rod powers Yanks to victory

A-Rod powers Yanks to victory

NEW YORK -- The Yankees have been looking for a spark to get them out of their early-season funk. Tuesday night, Alex Rodriguez did them one better, putting on a fireworks display at Yankee Stadium.

A-Rod bashed three home runs and had 10 RBIs, leading the Bronx Bombers to a 12-4 victory over the Angels.

"It was pretty incredible," said manager Joe Torre. "Your mouth has to drop open when you see something like that. That was certainly worth the price of admission."

Rodriguez went 4-for-5, producing the third three-homer performance of his career. His 10 RBIs were the second-most in Yankees history, one behind Tony Lazzeri, whose 11 RBIs stand as the American League record.

"I've hit three home runs twice before," Rodriguez said, holding his third home-run ball in his hand. "But nothing is as special as doing it here."

Carl Pavano was the recipient of the run support, evening his record at 2-2. Pavano allowed three runs on seven hits and two walks in seven innings, striking out two.

"I'm glad that Alex is on my side," said a smiling Pavano.

The victory was the second in a row for the Yankees, who improved to 9-11. Last season, New York rattled off eight consecutive victories after an identical 8-11 start, igniting a team that went on to win 101 games.

A-Rod got the Yankees off to a fast start on Tuesday, belting a three-run shot off Bartolo Colon with two outs in the first. The homer cleared the wall in left-center field, something Rodriguez wasn't sure would happen after a pregame chat with Derek Jeter.

"'No human alive can hit one out to left today because of the wind,'" Rodriguez recalled Jeter telling him during batting practice. "Sure enough, when I hit the one in the first inning, I called Jeet every name in the book. I was surprised it went out."

Pavano allowed a pair of runs in the third, cutting the lead to 3-2. But Rodriguez gave his starter a healthy cushion in the bottom of the inning, ripping a 1-0 offering from Colon over the wall in left for another two-out homer, this time a two-run shot.

"He crushed those balls," Jeter said. "He could have hit them anywhere and they would have gone out."

"It seems like every time I get something up in the strike zone," Colon said, "[A-Rod] hammers me."

Rodriguez came up with the bases loaded in the fourth, and everyone in the stadium was on the edge of their seats -- including Rodriguez's own teammates -- to see if he could hit another ball out of the yard.

"After the two home runs, that's all anybody was thinking, even the players," Torre said. "Players don't normally get caught up in that stuff, but everybody in the dugout became a fan. It was quite an incredible thing."

Rodriguez didn't disappoint, crushing a 3-2 pitch from Colon to dead center field, hitting it off the front of the "black" section. It was Rodriguez's 11th career grand slam, giving the Yankees a 10-2 lead.

"If I would have thought grand slam for one minute, it probably wouldn't have happened. My goal was to hit the ball hard up the middle," A-Rod said. "It was a fun matchup. Bases loaded, the fans were going crazy. When that ball went over the center-field fence, it felt pretty cool."

"Everybody had a big smile on their face," Torre said. "You think it's going to happen, you expect it to happen, and when the guys in front of him scored, it was like a look of amazement on their faces."

The crowd of 36,328 rose to its feet, giving Rodriguez his second standing ovation of the night. A-Rod came out for his second curtain call of the game, a rare sight in the Bronx.

"I don't like that curtain call stuff," Rodriguez said. "I respect those guys over there so much, but Joe and Mel pushed me out there. When Joe speaks, we listen."

That Rodriguez was able to hit all three of his homers with two outs and with runners in scoring position is impressive, given that he entered the game with a .154 average in those spots. After his career night, Rodriguez is now batting .312 in that situation and .343 overall with RISP.

Rodriguez added an RBI single in the sixth, bringing his game total to 10.

"It's magical," A-Rod said of his night. "After I got that last base hit up the middle, I felt like I was on top of a cloud. You don't want that moment to end. It was a night that I'll never forget."

Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.