KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The hottest hitter in the majors cannot lie. Once in a while, even A-Rod steals a glance at the scoreboard and goes "Wow!"
"Sure. Sometimes," Alex Rodriguez said. "I've peeked up there a couple of times. You smile. You have to enjoy it a little bit and keep it moving."
The Kauffman Stadium scoreboard yesterday registered A-Rod's seventh home run in five games and his ninth in 11, as the New York Yankees beat the Kansas City Royals, 6-3, for a three-game sweep. The win increased the Yankees' American League wild-card lead to four games over the Detroit Tigers.
It's the fifth time in his brilliant 13-year career that the Yankees third baseman has homered in five straight games. With 19 games left in what he calls "a magical season," A-Rod leads the majors with 52 home runs and 140 RBIs.
"I'm enjoying it," said Rodriguez, who was 2 for 5 with a single. "It says a lot about the three guys who are hitting in front of me and the protection I'm getting behind me. The reason I'm getting pitched to is those guys behind me - they get a lot of respect. I just want to finish strong."
Chien-Ming Wang earned his 18th win to remain tied for the major league lead, and Jorge Posada hit a tiebreaking, two-run double as the Yankees won their fifth in a row and 23d in 35 games.
Wang (18-6) gave up a three-run double to rookie Alex Gordon but went seven innings to win his fifth start in a row. Against the Royals, the righthander is 4-0 in six career starts.
"When we tied the score, we felt pretty good," said Royals manager Buddy Bell. "But they are just on fire right now."
Mariano Rivera worked the ninth for his 25th save in 28 chances.
The Yankees are a season-high 19 games over .500 as they take a day off before resuming a crucial nine-game road trip that concludes at Toronto and Boston.
"We're here to get to the postseason," said manager Joe Torre. "We want to win the division. We're going to need help for that to be accomplished. But we're playing well right now."
A-Rod's two-run shot off Zack Greinke in the first inning raised his career total to 516, five behind Ted Williams and Willie McCovey for 15th place all-time.
Greinke came into the game not having allowed a run in 19 straight innings and determined not to let Rodriguez beat him.
"I was planning on not pitching to him today," Greinke said. "It was either going to be on the corner or off the plate. And he still hit it. That's just how good he is . . . It was an inch over the plate."
So it was a good pitch?
"To a normal person, yeah."
So A-Rod's not normal?
"Not when it comes to baseball."
Brandon Duckworth (2-5) pitched two-thirds of an inning in relief and took the loss.
After Gordon's tying double in the fourth, Rodriguez singled in the fifth and Hideki Matsui walked before Posada brought them both in with a double on the first pitch he saw from John Bale.
Bale then struck out six of his next eight batters. He fanned Bobby Abreu, Rodriguez, and Matsui on 11 pitches in the seventh.