06/23/10 1:41 AM ET
Key sluggers hit stride for Yanks, D-backs
By Tim Britton / MLB.com
Rodriguez finally hit his ninth home run of the season in Tuesday's 9-3 win, a two-run shot to left-center field in the first inning that got the Yankees off and running. Rodriguez hadn't hit a home run in 12 games, a span during which he batted .174 with only two RBIs.
The third baseman added an RBI single in the third to give the Yankees the lead a second time.
"I'm not really worried about home runs," Rodriguez said after Monday's loss in Arizona. "I'm sure at the end of the year, I'm going to have exactly what I have every year. What I'm concerned about is driving the ball and making good, solid contact every at-bat."
A revitalized Rodriguez could go a long way toward solving the Yankees' offensive slumber. The team had scored just 17 runs in its past six games entering Tuesday night.
Rodriguez's first-inning home run on Tuesday was just an imitation of Upton's on Monday, a two-out solo shot that got Arizona on the board first. Upton added a three-run jack in the eighth as part of a three-hit, four-run game.
Upton posted two more hits on Tuesday, his fifth multihit game in his past seven. Upton is hitting .423 during the past week with three long balls and six RBIs.
"[Monday] brought out the best of him -- with the environment, the buzz and the Yankees -- and the fact that was building up to this, having played well on the road, it was nice that he came up and carried us for a while," Arizona manager A.J. Hinch said prior to Tuesday's game.
Perhaps the best news is that Upton has struck out only four times over the past week, after being punched out 88 times in the season's first 62 games.
Dontrelle Willis and Javier Vazquez will have the unenviable tasks of slowing those hitters down in Wednesday's rubber game.
Yankees: Vazquez familiar with desert
Although most of the team's pitchers aren't too familiar with Chase Field, that's certainly not the case for Vazquez. The right-hander spent the 2005 season with the D-backs and has made 21 career starts in the desert. He's 6-8 with a 4.06 ERA in Arizona, including a strong start there last season as a member of the Braves.
D-backs: Homers a key
With their four home runs in Monday's win, the Diamondbacks moved to 16-3 on the season when they hit two or more long balls in a game.
"It certainly is part of our identity," Hinch said. "It's also part of a danger, because when we rely on it too much, we become a little too one-dimensional. We've got to find a way to score without relying on the home-run ball and then have that be an added bonus once we get hot like that. One thing I've noticed about this team is that we can bunch them together. We've had games where we have quite a few. But relying on the home run can be a slippery slope and a little dangerous."
Andy Pettitte hit a leadoff single in the fifth inning on Tuesday, meaning the left-hander now has hits in three of the past four games in which he's stepped up to the plate, including Game 3 of last season's World Series. ... Pettitte's counterpart on Tuesday, Dan Haren, picked up two hits himself -- including a two-out, two-run single -- and now has 21 on the season. Haren has a six-game hitting streak and is batting .452 this season. He is a .227 career hitter. ... The D-backs have never won a regular-season series from the Yankees. ... Haren did not induce a single ground-ball out in his seven innings on Tuesday. He instead got 12 fly-ball outs, eight strikeouts and a caught stealing. Haren had never gone an entire start without getting a ground-ball out before in his career. The last pitcher to throw seven innings without a ground-ball out was the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw last April 15.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.