Derek Jeter(notes) homered twice, Jorge Posada(notes) snapped out of a slump with his first grand slam in nearly six years and New York beat the Houston Astros 9-3 on Saturday behind another solid outing by Javier Vazquez(notes).
“Everybody’s got to step up—with him or without him,” Posada said, referring to Rodriguez.
Vazquez (6-5) pitched seven solid innings for his third straight win and fourth in five starts.
Jeter hit a leadoff shot and drove in four runs for the Yankees, who roughed up struggling left-hander Wandy Rodriguez(notes) and beat Houston without Alex Rodriguez (right hip) for the second consecutive day.
New York moved a season-best 16 games over .500 at 39-23 with its seventh home victory in a row—also a season high.
In the bottom of the first, Jeter sent a 2-0 pitch from Wandy Rodriguez (3-9) into the Houston bullpen for his 24th career leadoff homer, tying Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson for the franchise record.
“We don’t really think too much about our place in history while we’re playing,” Jeter said. “If you play long enough and you’re consistent enough, good things are going to happen.”
Pence homered leading off the second and Jeff Keppinger’s(notes) third-inning RBI double put Houston ahead 2-1. But the Yankees came right back in the bottom half, when their first five batters reached safely against Wandy Rodriguez.
“It just seemed like he couldn’t get where he wanted to be. We’ve talked about trying to stop innings when the other team is getting base runners and he just couldn’t stop that inning,” Houston manager Brad Mills(notes) said. “His command wasn’t there and he kept getting behind hitters.”
Jeter drew a leadoff walk, stole second and went to third on catcher Humberto Quintero’s(notes) throwing error. Nick Swisher(notes) hit an RBI single, Mark Teixeira(notes) walked and Robinson Cano(notes) reached on an infield single that deflected off Wandy Rodriguez’s glove, loading the bases.
Batting right-handed, Posada went with a low-outside pitch and lifted it to right-center for his eighth career slam and first since July 26, 2004, at Toronto. He snapped a 4-for-34 skid since coming off the disabled list and became the eighth player to hit 250 homers with the Yankees.
“It’s meaningful. It’s not just another home run,” said Posada, given the milestone ball in a clear case as a souvenir. “Not so many catchers get to be in this spot.”
While waiting for medical clearance to get back behind the plate, Posada has been limited to DH duties since he was activated June 2 after being sidelined with a broken right foot.
He said being the designated hitter is tough, and he was happy to hear that he’ll catch on Sunday.
“It’s been a battle,” Posada said. “During the year you’re going to go through times when you have no idea what you’re doing. That’s been the case.”
It was Jeter’s ninth career multihomer game and first since Aug. 27, 2006, at the Los Angeles Angels.
Vazquez scattered six hits, struck out six and did not walk a batter for the first time in 11 starts this season. After a slow start in his second stint with the Yankees, the right-hander has gone seven innings in each of his last three outings.
“It was just a matter of getting my mind right,” Vazquez said. “I’m throwing strikes, being aggressive.”
Wandy Rodriguez was tagged for eight runs, seven hits and five walks in five-plus innings, dropping to 1-5 in his past six starts.
“I was using my breaking ball a lot today. I think they were looking for it,” he said.
NOTES: Astros LHP Tim Byrdak(notes) pitched a scoreless eighth after a cortisone shot Friday helped his ailing lower back. … Houston slugger Lance Berkman(notes) is 1 for 23 in six games on this road trip. … Yankees OF Brett Gardner(notes) replaced Marcus Thames(notes) (strained right hamstring) in LF to start the fifth. Gardner sat out the previous two days with a sprained left thumb but took batting practice before the game and said his thumb felt good. Thames went for an MRI, which was negative. … Kevin Russo(notes) started at 3B in Alex Rodriguez’s place and batted ninth. … It was Jeter’s first leadoff homer this season. … The Yankees are 21-7 at home.