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08/15/10 2:31 PM ET

A-Rod driving in runs at an impressive rate

KANSAS CITY -- Alex Rodriguez's three-homer evening on Saturday might have been a special treat for the Yankees' third baseman, but even though he has been frustrated by the power numbers, the RBI column is right where he wants it to be.

Rodriguez's five RBIs Saturday vaulted him past the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera for the Major League lead with 97 this season. Cabrera, who will go head-to-head with the Yankees this week in the Bronx, entered play on Sunday with 94 RBIs.

"I'm not shocked," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "His approach with runners on has been tremendous. Sometimes people can get too caught up in home runs. We look at production and what he's done, and he's been great."

After Saturday's performance, Rodriguez deviated from a set of responses he has been giving for months, acknowledging that "it's been frustrating" to endure an inability to hit home runs at his regular pace this season.

Rodriguez said his 46 at-bat homerless streak between homers No. 599 and 600 was "really a microcosm of what's happened all year. I've been able to drive in runs and hit some doubles here and there, but overall, I've hit for no power."

That certainly wasn't the case on Saturday, as Rodriguez celebrated his fourth career three-homer game, having last achieved the feat on May 26, 2005, against the Angels.

"Everyone acts like he's hitting .220 and he's got 38 RBIs," Girardi said. "He's on pace to drive in about 140 runs, so I'm not complaining. ... Alex has high expectations of himself, and that's what you want players to have. I'd be more concerned if he didn't have the RBIs."

Rodriguez's three homers Saturday combined to travel an estimated 1,270 feet, and he became the fifth Yankees player all-time to record at least two games of three or more homers, joining Lou Gehrig (four), Joe DiMaggio (three), Tony Lazzeri (two) and Bobby Murcer (two).

Next test for Pettitte to come on Tuesday

KANSAS CITY -- Andy Pettitte's next test will come on Tuesday at Yankee Stadium, as the left-hander will play catch and could possibly progress to throwing off the mound the same day.

Pettitte checked out fine in tests performed at Kauffman Stadium with head athletic trainer Gene Monahan, who has no qualms about getting Pettitte back in action as he attempts to return from a left groin strain that has kept him out since July 19.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that if Tuesday's session goes well, Pettitte could possibly throw in a simulated game by Friday, although it was not clear if he would travel back to Tampa, Fla.

"If he feels good Tuesday, it's possible," Girardi said. "There's some different things we can do. You'd like to keep him off a plane if you could."

Pettitte threw 50 pitches on Friday at the club's Minor League complex in Tampa, but said he was hesitant to let the offerings fly at more than 75 percent.

"Whenever I go to [throw] home and I want to do what I normally do, my body is saying, 'Don't do it,'" Pettitte said. "I really don't know if it's strength or what that is. ... I think it's a little bump in the road. I think I'm going to get there."

Worth noting

Left-hander Damaso Marte (left shoulder inflammation) was scheduled to throw from a half-mound on Sunday. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said it would be difficult to envision Marte returning before Sept. 1. ... Girardi said the Yankees considered giving Derek Jeter a day off on Sunday, but Jeter said he feels fine. Jeter has hit safely in 13 of his past 16 games (.328, 22-for-67) and has not committed an error in 51 consecutive games at shortstop. ... Yankees relievers have held opponents scoreless in 16 of 19 games since July 26, combining for a 1.11 ERA (48 2/3 IP, six earned runs) over the stretch with 46 strikeouts and a .156 (26-for-167) batting average. ... Yankees third-base coach Rob Thomson will celebrate his 47th birthday on Monday.

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