Yanks walk off on Melky's hit in ninth
Outfielder comes through after A-Rod's game-tying blast
NEW YORK -- Much has been made of the abundance of home runs flying out of the new Yankee Stadium. And while Saturday afternoon's game saw four balls leave the park, it was another trend in the Yankees' new digs that landed them the win.
With one out in the ninth inning, Melky Cabrera laced a single into right-center, scoring Robinson Cano and giving the Yankees a 5-4 walk-off win over the Phillies, in front of a crowd of 46,889.
Cabrera's hit evened the series and marked the Yankees' fourth walk-off in nine games of their current 10-game homestand. It was the second time in eight days that Cabrera emerged the hero, donning a face full of whipped cream.
"If you like drama," manager Joe Girardi said. "This homestand has had a lot of it."
The Yankees' late-game rally got started when Johnny Damon drew a walk off closer Brad Lidge and promptly stole second. After Mark Teixeira struck out, Alex Rodriguez launched a full-count homer into right field to tie the game. Robinson Cano followed with a single up the middle and stole second to put the go-ahead run in scoring position for Cabrera.
"There's no doubt [walk-offs] are exciting," said starter Andy Pettitte. "It's awesome to see Robby be part of this and Melk be part of this because it gives them the opportunity to be in these big situations. And they can look back and say, 'I've done it. I've done it in big situations.' And its stuff you can build off of."
Yankees captain Derek Jeter, no stranger to clutch hitting, said it is Cabrera's confidence that has given him such poise in late-game situations.
"Once you do something, once you are able to accomplish something once, you can put that in your memory bank," Jeter said. "And when you are in that situation again, you can draw from it."
With a team-leading three walk-off RBIs, Cabrera should have no problem believing in his own ability. After not making the team's starting lineup out of Spring Training, Cabrera used his disappointment as a reason to work even harder on the field.
"He's worked his tail off," said Rodriguez, who, like many of Cabrera's teammates, wasn't surprised to see the outfielder come through again on Saturday.
"That's what we expect from Melky," Rodriguez said. "It's fun to watch."
The ball Rodriguez tattooed into right field was equally exciting for Yankees fans. After falling behind in the count, Rodriguez -- who had never faced Lidge -- connected for his seventh homer in 15 games.
"I was just looking for a good pitch I could drive," Rodriguez said, adding that his focus was more on getting a single "to keep the line moving" than on a home run.
"I'm not surprised [A-Rod] was able to do that, because he had the right approach there," Girardi said. "And when Alex has the right approach, he's extremely dangerous."
The same can be said of the Yankees, who were unable to muster any offensive momentum until the game's final frame.
Facing starter J.A. Happ, who had previously appeared in 12 games out of the bullpen, the Yankees got on the board in the second when Cano doubled, and, one out later, scored on Nick Swisher's groundout. Derek Jeter hit a solo homer in the sixth to account for all the offense in the first eight innings, as the Yankees were 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position until the final frame.
"You don't want to be in that situation, especially with Lidge -- he's as good as anyone," Jeter said. "But we still had three outs left."
Lately, those three outs have made all the difference. The Yankees lead the Majors with 17 come-from-behind wins, including nine in their last at-bat, and are playing some of their best baseball this season.
"I feel like we've really got a good shot to win the game no matter who's at the dish," reliever Phil Coke said. "Especially lately."
In danger of losing their first series since dropping a two-game set to Tampa Bay from May 6-7, Cabrera knew he just needed one good swing to put Yankees win No. 25 in the books.
"I stayed concentrated," he said. "It's just concentration, and I feel like I can hit the ball right there, in that spot."
For Pettitte, it was reason to jump up and down in child-like glee.
"[Winning with a walk-off] is exciting, there's no doubt," said Pettitte.
The left-hander looked solid early, allowing just two hits -- including a solo homer by Raul Ibanez -- over the first four innings. Pettitte made one mistake, a hanging slider that John Mayberry Jr. launched for his first Major League hit, a three-run homer.
"It's simple. If you leave a ball up and they hit it with barrel, right now it's a home run," Pettitte said of pitching in homer-happy Yankee Stadium. "So you just can't make a mistake up in the zone.
"You can't let your guard down ever out there right now."
And given the Yankees' recent comeback streak, visiting teams might be wise to follow Pettitte's words.
Brittany Ghiroli is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.