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Angels-Yankees Preview

AP - Sports

With his first homer of the season in the New York Yankees' opener against the Los Angeles Angels, Alex Rodriguez moved into a fifth-place tie on baseball's all-time home run list.

It seems unlikely the three-time AL MVP will surpass Ken Griffey Jr's total as long as C.J. Wilson is on the mound.

Wilson, who has routinely frustrated Rodriguez and has been one of baseball's top road pitchers, looks to help the Angels even the series with the Yankees in Saturday's matinee.

After getting off to a slow start on the road, Rodriguez broke out of his early slump in Friday's home opener against Los Angeles. Rodriguez, who hit .174 without an RBI in his first six games, went 3 for 4 with a solo shot in a 5-0 win, the Yankees' fourth in a row after opening with three losses against Tampa Bay.

"Something kind of clicked when we got on that plane to leave Florida,'' said Nick Swisher, who had a three-run double Friday.

Rodriguez's homer was the 630th of his career, tying him with Griffey, his former Seattle teammate.

"Griff is special to me because we came up together,'' Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez has hit 69 homers against the Angels - his most against anyone - but he hasn't connected off Wilson (1-0, 1.29 ERA). The 14-time All-Star has one hit in 13 career at-bats against Wilson while striking out three times.

Curtis Granderson, who also homered Friday, has two singles in nine at-bats against the left-hander.

Yankee Stadium has the reputation of being a homer-friendly ballpark, but Wilson is a sinkerballer and typically doesn't serve up a lot of home runs. The 2011 All-Star is also very comfortable taking the mound in visiting ballparks. Since the start of last season, his 2.25 road ERA is the best in the AL.

He gave up two runs in eight innings in his lone start at Yankee Stadium last season, and is 0-1 with a 4.43 ERA in four career starts versus New York (4-3).

In his Los Angeles debut at Target Field on Monday, Wilson gave up a run, three hits and four walks in seven innings of a 5-1 win over Minnesota. He struck out five and got 16 groundouts, while the lone fly ball he allowed was a Josh Willingham homer.

The Angels (2-5) have dropped their three games since and their other high-priced free-agent acquisition is struggling a bit.

Albert Pujols went 1 for 4 Friday in his first game at the Yankees' new ballpark and is batting .222 with two doubles and two RBIs. He wasn't the only Angel to struggle in the series opener, however, as Los Angeles managed five hits and a walk off Hiroki Kuroda.

"Albert is going to be there, but we have to be more than Albert, and we are,'' manager Mike Scioscia said.

Pujols has never faced scheduled starter Phil Hughes (0-1, 3.86), who allowed two runs and five hits in 4 2-3 innings of a 3-0 loss to the Rays on Sunday.

This will be the right-hander's first start against the Angels since 2010, and he's 1-1 with a 7.16 ERA in three career starts against them.

While Hughes had a tough 2011, he had his biggest problems pitching in front of the home crowd. He went 1-2 with a 7.83 in seven starts at Yankee Stadium after winning 11 games there the year before.

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