Saturday, August 8, 2009

A-Rod's 15th-inning Blast Drops Red Sox; Church Seals Win in LA

Players of the Day for Friday, August 7, 2009 American League Alex Rodriguez hadn't hit a home run since July 19, and as the scoreless duel between the Red Sox and Yankees reached the 15th inning, he had gone 72 at-bats without sending a ball out of anyone's yard. Boston's Josh Beckett and New York's A.J. Burnett had long been relieved, with Beckett going 7 innings and Burnett, 7 2/3. When Derek Jeter opened with a single in the bottom half of the 15th - his only hit of the night - Rodriguez figured to get a chance to drive him home. After two outs by Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira, Rodriguez picked the right pitch and the right time to end the longest homerless drought of his career, sending the ball over the left field fence for his 20th home run and a 2-0 Yankee win. Rodriguez finished 2-for-7 with the only 2 RBI of the game, giving him 62 on the season. Rodriguez has now hit 20 or more home runs in 14 straight seasons. He will have to step up his RBI production, having played in only 75 games this season, to keep intact his 100-RBI-per-season streak, which currently stands at 11. The 20 homers in consecutive seasons mark puts A-Rod in a tie for 4th place (with Eddie Mathews, Rafael Palmeiro and Manny Ramirez), behind Barry Bonds and Willie Mays, both at 15, Babe Ruth (18) and Henry Aaron (20). His 573rd career home run also tied A-Rod with Harmon Killebrew for 9th place on the all-time leaders list. The win boosted the Yankees edge in the AL East to 4 1/2 games over the Red Sox> Tampa Bay, which lost at Seattle, dropped 7 games off the pace. National League A dark horse to even make the playoffs this season, Ryan Church helped keep Atlanta's hopes alive as the Braves knocked off the Dodgers, 9-5, in 12 innings. Church went 3-for4, scored twice and drove in 4 runs, with a single, double and 3-run homer in the 12th that sealed the win. After Yunel Escobar singled home Garret Anderson with the go-ahead run, Church delivered 3 insurance runs with his 4th homer of the season. The win left the Braves in third place in the NL East, 6 1/2 behind the Phillies, but only 1/2 back of Florida and 4 1/2 behind the Giants and Rockies in the wild card race. After splitting the first two games in their series in LA, the Dodgers and Braves face off for two more, Saturday and Sunday. Both the Giants and Rockies trail the Dodgers by 6 1/2, so they are hoping for some help from the Braves. NOTES: The Texas Rangers just won't go away, opening their three-game series with the Angels with an 11-6 win. The Rangers banged out 15 hits and pulled to within 3 1/2 of LA for first place in the West. In the Central, the Tigers expanded their lead to 3 games over the White Sox and 4 1/2 over the Twins, as Detroit won their third straight and their two pursuers each lost on Friday. In the NL Central, the Cardinals grabbed a 1-game lead over the Cubs with a 6-4 win over Pittsburgh.while the Cubs were losing to Colorado, 6-2. The Cubs have one fewer loss than St. Louis (50-51), but have played 2 fewer games than the Cards.

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