By Santosh Venkataraman
(AP) — Alex Rodriguez is battling through some pain in his right knee, but it sure hasn’t affected his play.
He’ll try to continue his hot hitting for the New York Yankees on Sunday when they finish a three-game home set against the Colorado Rockies.
Rodriguez is 3 for 6 with five RBIs in this series as New York (44-31) and Colorado (38-38) have split the first two games. He’s been seeing trainers since last Sunday’s game at Wrigley Field, when he tweaked the knee.
“There are some injuries you can play through and some you can’t, and this is one I can play through,” Rodriguez said. “I think I’m getting better and I’m good enough to play.”
Rodriguez exited after he had two hits and three RBIs in seven innings in Saturday’s 8-3 victory. He’s played third base in both games of this series but could serve as the designated hitter Sunday.
“He hasn’t really had a lot of off days,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He’s had some DH days but he hasn’t had a lot of off days and he comes to play every day and that’s what great players do.”
Rodriguez hasn’t homered in his last 12 games, but he’s hitting .405 with 13 RBIs in that span and has gone 12 for 22 in his past six.
“He’s been extremely productive, and you don’t need home runs in our lineup to drive in runs,” Girardi said. “His at-bats have been really, really good and he’s finding a way to drive in runs, sac flies, doubles, singles, whatever it takes.”
The Yankees got plenty of other players to contribute Saturday with a 15-hit attack. Mark Teixeira homered and had two hits while Jorge Posada went 3 for 4.
“We just got beat today,” Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. “They had a lot of base runners through the first four innings and really had some good, professional at-bats.”
Second baseman Robinson Cano is 0 for 8 as the only Yankee regular hitless in this series.
Colorado managed one run and seven hits Saturday off CC Sabathia. Red-hot Seth Smith did not start since the left-hander was on the mound, although the lefty-hitting outfielder had a pinch-hit RBI single off Sabathia to improve to 8 for 19 on this road trip.
Smith will likely be back in the lineup against Ivan Nova (7-4, 4.13 ERA), who is 3-0 with a 3.05 ERA in his last three starts. Nova gave up one run over eight innings and struck out seven Monday in a 5-3 victory at Cincinnati.
Nova will be up against a fellow Dominican right-hander in rookie Juan Nicasio (2-1, 4.71), who gave up a season-high six runs over 4 2-3 innings in Monday’s 8-7 victory at Cleveland.
Nicasio has 15 strikeouts to three walks over his last two starts – 10 2-3 innings. Opponents, however, are hitting .302 against him this year, and he’s allowed four homers in his past three outings.
Rockies closer Huston Street should be available, although he had soreness in his groin area after saving Friday’s 4-2 win. Street has a 0.64 ERA in 13 appearances against the Yankees, and Rodriguez is 0 for 5 against him.
Former Yankees slugger Jason Giambi is 3 for 7 with a solo homer, two walks and three runs scored in this series.
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