Rodriguez racks up homer No. 497

Rodriguez racks up homer No. 497

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez launched home run No. 497 on Saturday at Yankee Stadium in a 17-5 victory in the second game of a doubleheader, then he responded to the crowd's curtain call with a wave from the top of dugout steps.

"He had great at-bats, great at-bats in the second game," manager Joe Torre said. "Right from the first at-bat, he just looked very comfortable. He's going to go in and out of that."

The two-run shot to left field came off Tampa Bay right-hander Jay Witasick and placed Rodriguez just three home runs shy of becoming the 22nd member of the exclusive 500-homer club.

A-Rod's 33rd home run of the season -- plus a sacrifice fly later in the game -- gave him 96 RBIs, and he leads the Major Leagues in both categories.

"It's incredible," first baseman Andy Phillips said. "It's hard to even describe what he's doing. You know, it's hard to put in words -- justifiable words. It's just an amazing thing that he's doing, and he never ceases to amaze you every time he steps up there."

Rodriguez's march toward No. 500 has worked its way over Tampa Bay. Saturday night's blast was A-Rod's fifth against the D-Rays this season, and gave him a total of 30 against them.

He hit No. 496 -- his 32nd this season -- on July 16 against the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium. Rodriguez hit homer No. 495 -- his 31st this season -- on July 12 at Tampa Bay in the Yankees' first series back from the All-Star break.

Before the Midsummer Classic, Rodriguez had totaled 30 home runs, setting a personal record and leading the Majors. He also topped the charts in runs and RBIs at the break with 79 and 86, respectively, making him the first Yankee to lead all three categories since Mickey Mantle did so in 1956.

Caleb Breakey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.