NEW YORK -- Crazy as it seems, teams still load the bases so they can pitch to Alex Rodriguez. On purpose.
For the second time this season, A-Rod made them pay in the worst way, hitting a grand slam that sparked the Yankees' six-run seventh inning and turned a pitching duel Andy Pettitte was winning into an 11-2 rout of the Cleveland Indians on Monday.
Both of Rodriguez's slams this season came after Mark Teixeira was intentionally walked ahead of him, and A-Rod is 5-for-5 with 18 RBIs when teams intentionally pitch around Teixeira.
"I felt it coming, for some reason," Rodriguez said. "I would appreciate if we keep these numbers to ourselves and not share them with any other managers."
Not that it's any big secret that Rodriguez, whose seventh homer this season gave him 590 in his career, is a tough out -- even without the bases loaded.
"The best thing for us to do in that situation, once he got behind 3-1 was to just put him on and try to get a double play," Indians manager Manny Acta said.
Even better would be avoiding the sort of situation in the first place, something the Indians failed at throughout the series.
The Indians' top left-handed reliever, Tony Sipp, had been brought in to face Curtis Granderson twice already in the series. Both times, he gave up doubles, so this time Acta called on Rafael Perez with one out, one on and, yep, Granderson due to bat.
Granderson singled, and a wild pitch allowed him and pinch-runner Ramiro Pena to take a base, leading to an intentional walk of Teixeira.
"The whole series, basically, turned on three at-bats," Acta said. "Three times, we couldn't make pitches to Granderson. Forget about the home runs. He came in hitting .199 against left-handed pitchers and he was 3-for-3 against our guys."
Cleveland starter Mitch Talbot (6-4) left with the Indians trailing only 2-1. He held down the Yankees' lineup, but the Indians couldn't get anything going against Pettitte (7-1), and by the time they came back up again in the top of the eighth, the Indians were seven runs behind.
Talbot was charged with three runs on nine hits. He struck out three without a walk but hit two batters with pitches.
"At different times of the game, I was really locked in," Talbot said. "And then the next inning, I'd have to go out and find everything again. I'm happy with the overall performance. I battled and I battled without my best stuff."
Had the Indians' volatile bullpen not melted down again, Talbot might have been able to feel better about having hung with Pettitte, who tied Clay Buchholz and David Price for the AL lead in wins and improved his career record to 236-136, 100 games over .500.
Pettitte pitched seven innings, allowing three singles and Jhonny Peralta's 100th career homer, while striking out five without a walk. He retired his last 14 batters and improved to 6-0 with a 1.12 ERA in six day starts this year.
"I love day games," Pettitte said. "I'm not much of a night owl."
Rodriguez worked a 3-1 count before launching a no-doubter to straightaway center field off Chris Perez, and, after Rodriguez took a curtain call on a sunny Memorial Day afternoon, Robinson Cano followed with a solo shot. He later added a two-run single that glanced off the heel of first baseman Matt LaPorta.
Rodriguez, who drove in six runs, has 20 grand slams, third in baseball history behind Lou Gehrig (23) and Manny Ramirez (21). He hit an RBI single in the first and added an RBI double in the eighth.
Monday was the 16th time in Rodriguez's career a batter was intentionally walked to load the bases for him, according to STATS LLC. The last seven occasions have been walks to Teixeira.
The Yankees had a season-high 18 hits, nine off Cleveland's bullpen.
"This was a very close game until the seventh inning," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
The Yankees scored 15 runs in the seventh innings of their three wins in the four-game series, while the Indians scored seven runs in the seventh inning of their win.
Mark Grudzielanek's single with one out in the third gave Cleveland its last baserunner until Travis Hafner worked a full-count walk with two outs in the ninth. Peralta followed with a single and Shelley Duncan drove home Hafner with another one off Chan Ho Park.
Yankees catcher Jorge Posada ran the bases and in the field before the game, as he rehabs a broken bone in his right foot. "Tomorrow's a big day. ... If that foot feels good, he's close," Girardi said. ... New York Jets coach Rex Ryan was at the game, wearing a Yankees jersey in the TV booth. ... LaPorta hit a pop foul to first on a 3-0 pitch to end the fourth inning. ... Gardner was caught on a pitchout to end the fourth inning. ... Derek Jeter was lifted for Pena in the seventh, with tightness in his left hamstring. He had been hit there earlier by a pitch. ... Indians lefty-batting outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, hitless in his last 17 at-bats, got his first day off of the year.