Yankees 7, Rangers 4
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP)—Alex Rodriguez finally got cheered again, and even had some fun.
The two-time AL MVP reached base three times and scored twice in the New York Yankees’ 7-4 victory at Texas on Tuesday night, providing more signs of breaking out of his slump, and even entertaining the fans of his former team with a “Kiss Cam” performance.
When Rodriguez was shown on the giant video screen after the sixth inning, he reached over and playfully pecked teammate Andy Phillips on top of the head. The crowd, which has lustfully booed him this week, cheered after a smiling Rodriguez played along with the gag.
“That’s the first kiss I’ve had in a long time. (The fans) loved it,” said Rodriguez, whose struggles have led to plenty of boos at Yankee Stadium. He walked twice and was hit by a pitch.
“You better ask him how my hair tastes. It was funny,” Phillips said. “I didn’t know what he was doing, but that was fun. It’s something I can tell my grandkids about.”
The Yankees made the most of their four hits, benefiting from six walks, two hit batters and an error.
“Quality at-bats lead to walks,” manager Joe Torre said. “We didn’t do a whole lot offensively, but we made them work hard and took advantage of some mistakes.”
Mussina (12-3) won his fourth straight decision over his last seven starts. The right-hander threw 97 pitches with four strikeouts, two walks and a hit batter. He allowed three runs and five hits.
Mariano Rivera pitched the ninth for his 24th save in 26 chances.
The Yankees loaded the bases with two outs in the fourth when Adam Eaton (0-1), finally making his Texas debut, walked two batters and hit Guiel before walking Phillips to drive home a run. Miguel Cairo then hit a two-run single, a grounder through the middle that put New York ahead 3-2.
That was the last batter and the only hit allowed by Eaton, activated from the disabled list earlier Tuesday. Acquired in a December trade from San Diego to be the No. 2 starter behind Kevin Millwood, Eaton injured the middle finger on his pitching hand in his final spring start and had surgery.
“I wish I had the fourth to do all over again,” Eaton said.
“He was pretty good the first three innings, but he lost command in the fourth,” manager Buck Showalter said. “We got a good glimpse of what he’s capable of. He was pretty impressive the first three innings.”
Eaton threw 43 of 78 pitches for strikes, with four strikeouts, four walks and hit two batters. The right-hander retired 10 of the first 12 batters he faced—Rodriguez was thrown out on a stolen base attempt after being hit in the second—before walking A-Rod with two outs in the fourth.
Derek Jeter had a leadoff single in the fifth and after Rodriguez walked again, Guiel hit a three-run homer.
Guiel was claimed off waivers from Kansas City on July 5 because the Yankees desperately needed outfielders with Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui on the disabled list. Plus, Johnny Damon missed his second straight game Tuesday because of a sore back.
“When you accept your role, you get a little more confidence,” said Guiel, who hit .220 in 19 games for the Royals before being designated for assignment June 30. “When you can contribute, it makes you feel confident you can do it again.”
Before his homer, Guiel had only two hits in his previous 19 at-bats, including a solo shot in Monday night’s 6-2 victory.
Rodriguez—who cleanly handled four fielding chances—took a called third strike in the seventh, one pitch after his flyball down the right-field line landed in the stands just a few feet past the foul pole. He still has only six hits his last 33 at-bats even after going 2-for-5 in the series opener.
The Rangers got another run in the third without putting a ball into the outfield.
Gary Matthews had an infield single, then advanced on Kinsler’s short-hopper that Rodriguez charged to field and made the throw to first for the out. But Matthews rounded second and kept running, scoring when first baseman Phillips’ wild throw got past Jeter covering the bag.
Showalter was back in the Rangers dugout after missing two games because of an irregular heartbeat brought on by dehydration. He had missed consecutive games for the first times in 11 seasons as a major league manager, the last four in Texas. … The Rangers are 25-27 at home. … The Yankees are 5-0 in Arlington this season, and try to complete their second series sweep there Wednesday.