Yankees hope rally will provide spark
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Alex Rodriguez concedes the New York Yankees have a lot of work ahead.
Still, winning three of four games against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to climb above .500 for the first time in more than three weeks is a nice start for a team that spent the first half of the season digging itself into a deep hole.
"It's huge," Rodriguez said after yesterday's 7-6 victory. "We have to feel like we want to win series -- two out of three, three out of four. Anything else is not what we're looking for."
Derek Jeter hit a two-run homer, Andy Phillips snapped an eighth-inning tie with an RBI single, and New York (45-44) moved above .500 for the first time since June 22. The second-place Yankees cut the Red Sox' lead to nine games in the AL East, the first time they've been within single digits since June 19.
"This was a hugely important game for us," manager Joe Torre said. "We just kept hanging in there and grinding."
Phillips went 2 for 4 with two RBIs and made a diving catch at first base with a runner on second in the eighth, starting an inning-ending double play that preserved a one-run lead. Mariano Rivera wriggled out of a two-on, none-out jam in the ninth for his 426th career save.
Jeter homered off starter Edwin Jackson to finish a four-run fifth inning that erased a 3-0 deficit. Phillips had an RBI triple in the fifth and put the Yankees ahead for good with his eighth-inning single off Gary Glover.
"To be able to contribute on both sides of the ball, as a player you certainly relish it," Phillips said. "We could have easily let that game get away from us. It's not a situation you want, but we got back in there and you could feel the energy."
For the second straight game, the Yankees rallied to win after falling behind, 3-0. They put together a three-run eighth after Carlos Pena's two-run homer off Ron Villone gave Tampa Bay a 5-4 lead in the seventh.
Robinson Cano made it 5-5 in the eighth with a sacrifice fly off Casey Fossum (5-8), and Jeter put the Yankees up, 7-5, with an RBI infield single later in the inning.