1:05 PM ET, August 11, 2013
Yankee Stadium, New York, New York
Mariano Rivera blows third straight save but Brett Gardner lifts Yankees
NEW YORK -- Mariano Rivera stood on the mound, looking down at his cleats in a stunned-silent Yankee Stadium after giving up two homers and blowing his third straight save.
No problem, Mo.
Brett Gardner picked you up again.
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Rivera blew both save chances in the series. Gardner provided the winning hit each time.
"Mo's bailed us out a few times," Gardner said of the career saves leader. "It didn't matter if it was me or somebody else, we just needed to get a win today and I'm glad we made it happen."
Rivera (3-2) shocked a raucous crowd first.
Mr. Automatic gave up another homer to a limping Miguel Cabrera, plus a drive to Victor Martinez in the top of the ninth. The solo shots made it 4-all and turned Alex Rodriguez's first homer of the season into a footnote.
But Gardner connected off Jose Veras (0-5). The feisty center fielder flipped his batting helmet to A-Rod just before reaching the plate, then jumped into a cluster of teammates at home.
"To Martinez, that ball was just laying right flat up. And also with Miguel," Rivera said. "You're facing professional hitters. If you don't put the ball where you need to, you're going to get hit."
On Friday night, Rivera gave up a two-run shot to Cabrera, who fouled two balls off his leg before launching the tying drive. Gardner won it in the 10th with a single.
Rivera has a record 643 saves, but had never failed three in a row in 1,087 relief appearances coming in. His troubles began in Chicago, where he gave back a lead to the White Sox.
"At least it's the first time, you know what I mean?" Rivera said of the three failed saves. "I just try to go out there and do my job. The last three opportunities, I haven't done it. So we have to continue battling and get better. Have to keep working and eventually it will happen."
Manager Joe Girardi is hardly going to start worrying now about the 43-year-old pitcher regarded nearly unanimously as the best closer ever.
"It's not like you forget how to pitch in a week," Girardi said. "It's impossible."
"All great pitchers have one thing in common: they attack you and throw strikes," Rodriguez on why he's had success against Verlander -- four homers in 28 at-bats.
Rodriguez, who has missed most of the year while coming back from hip surgery, hit a leadoff homer in the second. His 648th career home run pushed him past Stan Musial for fifth on the RBIs list with 1,951.
"It was a tremendous homer by A-Rod," Pena said. "Justin Verlander threw a great inside pitch and he used his hands and sometimes you just have to credit the hitter."
Lustily booed Friday night in his season debut at Yankee Stadium, he quickly turned fans around Sunday with a soaring shot to left field that made it 1-all. Rodriguez drove in one more run with a single down the first base line in the third.
"Felt good to get the first one out of the way," Rodriguez said. "Today was a step in the right direction."
Pena played for Alex Avila, who was placed on the 7-day concussion list after the game. Avila was hit in the mask by a foul ball Thursday but played Saturday. He was in the initial lineup Sunday.
On a glorious August afternoon in the Bronx, the Yankees avoided dropping to .500 for the first time since April 13, improving to 59-57. Taking two of three from the AL Central leaders gave New York its first series win July 5-7 after an 0-5-3 stretch.
Gardner started a long-distance double play to end the eighth inning by leaping against the center field wall to catch Torii Hunter's fly and preserve the 4-2 lead.
Prince Fielder had an RBI single in the first off Andy Pettitte, the eighth straight game the lefty allowed a run in the opening inning. That's the longest such streak by a Yankees pitcher, according to STATS research back to 1920.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland disputed the call, and TV replays appeared to back him up.
Leyland was back on the field one batter later. Shaken after catching Hunter's fly, Gardner flipped the ball to Soriano. The left fielder threw the ball to shortstop Eduardo Nunez, who tossed it to second baseman Robinson Cano. Cano easily tagged Jackson, who stood confused on second base.
"As I lowered my head as I rounded back to make sure I stepped on second base, I saw the ball on the ground so I thought it hadn't been caught," Jackson said. "Sometimes you have no way of telling what's going on behind you. It happens sometimes. He made a great catch."
Half the team met Gardner at the dugout steps to congratulate the center fielder. They all pounced on him after his homer.
Verlander gave up seven hits and four runs in seven innings. He struck out nine and walked one. ... Rodriguez was given an error in the third on Martinez's slow roller that he ran in for but couldn't scoop with his glove. ... Rodriguez's two hits were his first off a right-hander in 25 at-bats dating to last year's playoffs. ... The Tigers recalled C Bryan Holaday from Triple-A Toledo after the game.
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 11: Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees follows through on his second inning home...(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Regular Season Series
|1st||P Fielder singled to center, T Hunter scored, M Cabrera to second.||1||0|
|2nd||A Rodriguez homered to left (357 feet).||1||1|
|2nd||E Nunez hit sacrifice fly to center, L Overbay scored.||1||2|
|3rd||A Rodriguez singled to right, R Cano scored.||1||3|
|4th||A Soriano homered to left (375 feet).||1||4|
|8th||B Pena homered to right (378 feet).||2||4|
|9th||M Cabrera homered to right (395 feet).||3||4|
|9th||V Martinez homered to right (376 feet).||4||4|
|9th||B Gardner homered to right (393 feet).||4||5|
|View complete Play-By-Play|
|Stadium||Yankee Stadium, New York, NY|
|Attendance||42,439 (86.3% full) - % is based on regular season capacity|
|Weather||78 degrees, partly cloudy|
|Umpires||Home Plate - Paul Emmel, First Base - Chris Conroy, Second Base - Will Little, Third Base - Jerry Meals|
From Elias: Brett Gardner is 1st Yankee with 2 walk-off hits in a span of 3 or fewer games since Claudell Washington, September 9 & 11, 1988.
This is the 3rd time in Mariano Rivera's career he has allowed 2 HR in a inning as a reliever. He also did it July 18, 1998 at the Blue Jays and May 7, 2009 vs Rays.
Mariano Rivera has allowed 5 HR this season (hasn't allowed 5+ HR since 2009 when he allowed 7 HR). This is the 5th season of his career of allowing 5+ HR.
Justin Verlander's off-speed pitches have been more effective his past two starts. He's allowed two hits in 20 at-bats ending with an off-speed pitch. Prior to those starts, opposing batters were hitting .232 against Verlander's off-speed pitches, which ranked 53rd among qualified starters. The Yankees are batting .216 versus off-speed pitches this season, 21st in MLB.
From Elias: Mariano Rivera is the 1st Yankees pitcher to blow 3 consecutive save chances, with each coming in the 9th inning or later since John Wetteland did so August 6-11, 1995. Coincidentally, one of the games (August 10 against the Indians) was started by Mariano Rivera.
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