Rodriguez went 4-for-4 with two RBIs and the New York Yankees beat the Giants 7-3 Friday night in their first meaningful game in San Francisco since winning Game 7 of the 1962 World Series.
Bonds got the longball, but A-Rod got the win in the matchup between two of baseball’s most feared sluggers.
“I’d take two more (Bonds homers) and two more wins,” Rodriguez said. “I’ll trade that. I’m a huge Barry fan. I love to see great talent be displayed. It’s a beautiful thing to watch. As long as we win the game, he can do whatever he wants.”
The talk before the game was of the two sluggers: Bonds as he closes in on Hank Aaron’s career record of 755 home runs and Rodriguez, the player many consider the biggest threat to hold the record after Bonds.
Bonds connected for his 15th home run of the season in the eighth inning off Scott Proctor, cutting New York’s lead to 6-3. But the Giants couldn’t get any closer, dropping their season-high eighth straight game.
“I don’t think we’re thinking that much about Barry trying to reach this milestone as trying to win a ballgame,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “That’s our focus right now. We need to stop this and we know it.”
Rodriguez helped the Yankees bounce back after they were swept in a three-game series in Colorado. His double started a three-run second inning and he also hit RBI singles in the fifth and ninth innings.
Kei Igawa, making his first start after seven weeks in the minors, was sharp early but was removed one out away from a potential win after walking Bonds with the bases loaded to cut New York’s lead to 5-2 in the fifth inning. Luis Vizcaino (4-1) came in and Bengie Molina hit a drive to left field that Hideki Matsui caught as he jumped into the fence, robbing the Giants of an extra-base hit.
“That ball had topspin on it,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said. “I thought when he first hit it he hit it out of the ballpark. Obviously that was a game-saver for us there.”
This game lacked the drama of the teams’ last meeting in San Francisco that counted. The Yankees won that game against their former New York rival 1-0 when Willie McCovey lined out to second baseman Bobby Richardson with runners on second and third to end the game.
The Giants did threaten after Bonds’ homer, putting two runners on in the eighth before Mariano Rivera escaped the jam by getting pinch-hitter Ryan Klesko to ground out. Rivera got five outs for his ninth save in 11 chances.
After being held to five runs in Colorado, the Yankees scored three times in the second against Matt Cain (2-8) with help from an overeager fan down the right-field line.
Rodriguez led off with a double and scored on Matsui’s sacrifice fly. Cain appeared to get out of the inning when Miguel Cairo lofted a fly ball in foul territory with two outs. Randy Winn had a chance to make the catch, but a fan went after the ball. There was no interference because the ball was in the seats, but the fan buried his head in his hands.
“Especially at home you think it wouldn’t happen, but it did,” Cain said. “It’s a ball Randy would have caught. It hit the guy right in the hands. But I put my team in a bad situation for the rest of the game and that’s terrible by me.”
Cain walked the next two batters to load the bases—including Igawa in his first career plate appearance—before Melky Cabrera’s two-run single made it 3-0. That was New York’s second hit in its last 20 at-bats with runners in scoring position. New York added two more runs in the fifth on an RBI double by Bobby Abreu and Rodriguez’s run-scoring single.
Igawa allowed two runs and five hits in 4 2-3 innings after spending the previous seven weeks retooling his delivery in the minors. Igawa had been a big disappointment in his first stint in the majors after the Yankees spent $46 million to bring him over from Japan in the offseason.
But he looked much better this game, holding the Giants scoreless the first four innings, including striking out Bonds in the fourth.
“He was consistent for four innings and to me that’s darn near half the game,” Torre said. “It may have just been the point where you maybe look up at the scoreboard and you see it’s going to be an official game here in a minute and he may have just rushed himself.”
Cain allowed five runs and seven hits in five innings and dropped to 0-5 in his last seven starts. Cain walked four and had no strikeouts for the first time in 53 career starts.
The Yankees played an exhibition game in San Francisco in 2000. … Cabrera had to be tended to by the trainer after fouling a ball off his right ankle in the sixth inning. He stayed in the game and tripled. … Yankees SS Derek Jeter hit an RBI single in the sixth inning to extend his hitting streak to 16 games. He was then picked off first by Randy Messenger. … Torre tied Leo Durocher for ninth place all-time with 2,009 career wins. … The crowd of 43,425 was the largest ever for a regular season game at the Giants’ waterfront ballpark that opened in 2000.