A-Rod five from 500 with 31st homer
Long ball inches Yanks third baseman closer to exclusive club
ST. PETERSBURG -- Alex Rodriguez inched one step closer to the 500-home run milestone on Thursday night.
The third baseman's solo shot came on a 2-2 changeup off Rays starter James Shields in the fourth inning and followed Derek Jeter's blast to give the Yankees a two-run lead in a game they won, 7-3. It was the third time this season that the Yankees had gone deep in consecutive at-bats.
A-Rod admitted that No. 500 is a big landmark, but he said that he hasn't really thought about what reaching it will feel like just yet.
"I'm really trying to focus," Rodriguez said. "We talk about all of the distractions and things that can go on, and you put that in a box aside. The most important thing for us is to win games. Every game is a big game for us, and we need to be in urgency mode from Day 1."
The 402-foot blast to left field upped A-Rod's Major League-leading home run and RBI totals to 31 and 87, respectively. He's currently in 22nd place on the all-time home runs list, seven shy of Toronto's Frank Thomas. His 1,434 RBIs have him in sole possession of 55th place, four ahead of Yogi Berra on the career list.
New York's win gave Rodriguez a chance to be able to appreciate his contribution.
"It's definitely more satisfying when we win a game," he said.
Dawn Klemish is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.