CLEVELAND (AP) — Alex Rodriguez prefers victories to hitting home runs — even historic homers.
Rodriguez drove in three runs without hitting his 600th homer and the New York Yankees used a seven-run seventh inning to beat the Cleveland Indians 11-4 Thursday night.
Dustin Moseley (1-0) won his first start, allowing a run and four hits over six innings as New York took three of four in a series that saw A-Rod’s homerless streak reach seven games since hitting No. 599.
“We’re winning, so this is fun,” Rodriguez said. “I’m focusing on something more important: a pennant race.”
Robinson Cano connected for his 20th homer just after Rodriguez grounded out in the seventh. That started a string of nine straight Yankees reaching safely with two outs. Curtis Granderson and Rodriguez each had two-run singles — both off Joe Smith — in the seven-run rally.
Rodriguez batted with the bases loaded three times and twice brought the crowd to its feet with long fly balls. He hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to center in the third to tie it 1-all and flied to right with two on in the fifth.
Brett Gardner drew a leadoff walk from rookie Frank Herrmann (0-1) and eventually scored on a single by Derek Jeter to break the tie in the sixth. Six Indians pitchers walked a season-high 12 before infielder Andy Marte worked a perfect ninth. The crowd chanted, “Andy, Andy,” after he fanned Nick Swisher for the second out.
“I now have a new most embarrassing moment,” Swisher said. “I just have to wear it. I was looking for the breaking ball and he gassed me.”
Marte became the 21st position player to pitch for Cleveland and first since catcher Tim Laker in 2004. He said he had never pitched anywhere and was so confused that he didn’t use a windup for the first few pitches.
“I looked for Fausto Carmona and asked him to teach me a pitch and how to grip it,” Marte said. “I threw everybody a fastball. I tried to throw something else and almost hit Cano.”
“Everybody was laughing. I was, too,” Marte added. “I made my debut against the Yankees.”
Indians manager Manny Acta was not amused.
“Some people may find it funny, but it’s not funny to me,” Acta said. “I did it because we had to. I feel that looks like a mockery of the game. The people who pay their money don’t deserve to watch a position player pitch.”
Fans came to see A-Rod anyway, buzzing in anticipation each time he came up, cheering loudly every time he failed. He went 3 for 17 in the series that drew 112,060, including Thursday’s crowd of 34,455 that was the Indians’ largest since opening day. They jammed a walkway past the left-field wall in hopes of catching the milestone shot.
“I didn’t notice them until somebody told me so I took a peek and was shocked,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t hit many that way. They should have gone somewhere else.”
Special baseballs were put in play each time A-Rod went to bat. Umpires attendant Jack Efta said 40 were used in the series.
After going oh-for Cleveland, Rodriguez will take his quest for homer history to Tampa Bay for a three-game series against the second-place Rays, who trail New York by two games in the AL East.
“I guess we’ll be talking about (A-Rod) again tomorrow, unless something happens overnight,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “We saw a few strange things tonight.”
Cleveland went ahead 1-0 on a sacrifice fly by Austin Kearns in the first and scored three runs in the ninth off Chan Ho Park.
“Moseley got in a jam early, but settled in nicely,” Girardi said. “He made 30 pitches in the first inning, then 50 the rest of the way.”
Four of Moseley’s nine career wins are against Cleveland. He made his 24th career start in place of Andy Pettitte, who went on the disabled list July 20 with a strained groin.
Indians starter Mitch Talbot walked Rodriguez and two others to load the bases in the second. He got Francisco Cervelli to hit a one-hopper back to him and turned an inning-ending double play.
Talbot left with a mid-back injury after yielding a single and making two pitches to Jeter in the third. The right-hander said he felt something in the first inning and tried to continue. He is scheduled for an MRI on Friday.
Rodriguez thrilled the crowd for an instant later that inning by slamming a 3-2 pitch from Rafael Perez to center with the bases loaded. It fell short of the warning track but was plenty deep to be a tying sacrifice fly.
That was the only run New York mustered through five innings, despite putting the first two runners on base four straight times.
NOTES: Indians rookie C Carlos Santana left in the eighth after taking a pitch from Smith squarely on the left knee in the seventh. Santana said he felt OK afterward. … Smith yielded four runs in one-third of an inning after not allowing any earned runs over 14 outings since June 28. … Rodriguez went 1 for 8 against four different rookies in the series. … Indians RHP Kerry Wood pitched a scoreless inning for Double-A Akron. The closer, out since July 11 with a blistered right index finger, threw eight pitches, all strikes.
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