Cano Powers Yankees to Fifth in a Row
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Robinson Cano drove in five runs, Alex Rodriguez hit a long homer and the Yankees beat the overmatched Tampa Bay Devil Rays 8–4 last night for their fifth straight victory.
Derek Jeter extended his hitting streak to 22 games, the longest run by a Yankees player since current batting coach Don Mattingly had a 24-game string in 1986.
Cano hit a two-run homer and Rodriguez went 3-for-4 with two RBIs as New York trimmed the magic number for clinching its ninth consecutive AL East title to seven.
Despite a shaky start by Cory Lidle, the Yankees (88–56) won for the eighth time in 10 tries to move 32 games over .500 for the first time this year. Drawing away on the strength of a relentless lineup, they opened a season-high 11 1/2-game lead over second-place Boston.
Rocco Baldelli and Carl Crawford homered in the first inning for Tampa Bay, which fell to 2-24 on the road since July 1 and dropped to 3-18-3 all-time in series at Yankee Stadium.
Staked to a 6-2 lead, Lidle lasted only four-plus innings and failed to qualify for a win.He gave up four runs and nine hits, which couldn’t have helped his dwindling chances to earn a playoff start.
Trying to beat out Jaret Wright for the no. 4 spot in New York’s postseason rotation, the right-hander has struggled in consecutive outings and three of his past four.
Brian Bruney (1–1) yielded one hit in two shutout innings for his first win with the Yankees. Mike Myers, Scott Proctor and Kyle Farnsworth finished up with scoreless relief.
Cano hit a sacrifice fly in the first, his 10th homer in the third and a two-run double in the seventh that made it 8–4 and matched his career high for RBIs.
Making a push for AL MVP, Jeter finished 1-for-5 with his 30th stolen base and scored twice.
Baldelli hit his fourth career leadoff homer, all this season. Crawford added a solo shot, his 17th home run of the year.
Two walks by rookie starter Jason Hammel (0–3) and Jeter’s single loaded the bases with none out in the bottom half. Rodriguez drove in a run with an infield single, Jason Giambi had an RBI groundout, and Cano’s sacrifice fly put New York ahead 3–2.
In the third, Rodriguez homered deep into the black batter’s eye beyond the center-field fence. Cano’s two-run shot made it 6–2.
Josh Paul hit an RBI single in the fourth, and Greg Norton chased Lidle with a run-scoring single in the fifth that cut it to 6–4.