NEW YORK -- Mark Teixeira bristled for a moment after Sunday's 4-0 win over the Mets when asked about his recent struggles. Teixeira pointed out his grand slam off Johan Santana. Then his home run Saturday off Mike Pelfrey. And finally his home run on Tuesday off Roy Halladay.

Teixeira, as much as anyone on the Yankees, was at his best against the tough pitchers the Bombers faced this week. Just as impressive, his Saturday long ball came from the left side of the plate, while his Sunday grand slam was as a righty.

"When I can hit a home run left-handed yesterday and a home run right-handed today, hopefully that can get things rolling for me," Teixeira said.

The Yankees certainly hope so. Teixeira's slow start burst beyond the confines of April and had extended for almost half the season. As uncharacteristically low as his numbers have been, they were bolstered only by a two-week hot streak at the start of May. Subtract the period from May 1 to May 17, and Teixeira would still be hitting below .200. He hit five of his 12 home runs and drove in 21 of his 44 runs during that same stretch.

That's why, until Sunday, most figured that the Yankees were tied with the Rays in the American League East in spite of Teixeira. On Sunday, they moved into sole possession of first because of him.

His third-inning slam came on a 1-1 fastball that Santana did not get down and in enough. Teixeira didn't get all of it, he said, but it was enough to reach the first row over the auxiliary scoreboard in left field.

"It can ignite your offense," Alex Rodriguez said of a potential hot streak from the hitter who precedes him in the lineup.

It may be coincidence that Teixeira's three home runs this week came against the toughest competition he faced. But it's not one that they all came in Bombers' victories.

"He is such an impactful player," manager Joe Girardi said. "I know this year has been somewhat of a struggle for him, but we have so much confidence in him because of what he's done in the past and what he did here last year. For us, it was just a matter of time. When he gets hot and gets on a roll, he can really carry a team."

Girardi: Lifting A-Rod a mere 'precaution'

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez was removed in the ninth inning of Sunday's 4-0 win over the Mets as a "precaution" according to manager Joe Girardi.

"Just being cautious," Girardi said. "With the little bit of rain, I just thought it made sense."

Rodriguez was making his second start back at third base after missing four games earlier in the week with right hip flexor tendinitis. Rodriguez was the designated hitter in his return to the lineup on Thursday night and has alternated between the DH and third in the four games since.

"I feel good. I feel real good," said Rodriguez after the game, adding that he was "encouraged" when he felt fine after making a diving stop on a Jose Reyes grounder in the sixth inning.

With the Yankees heading to Arizona and Los Angeles over the next week, they won't have the benefit of making Rodriguez the DH. Girardi said before the game it would be a "day-by-day" decision on whether to play both Rodriguez and catcher Jorge Posada. Rodriguez was more hopeful.

"In a perfect world, I hope to get to play all six," he said. "Right now, that's the plan."

Yankees get Jeter back for finale vs. Mets

NEW YORK -- Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter was back in the lineup for Sunday's Subway Series finale against the Mets, missing one game with a bruised right heel.

Jeter was a late scratch from the Bombers' 5-3 win over the Mets on Saturday after he was receiving treatment for the heel, which he said he hurt beating out a fourth-inning infield single on Friday.

"I'm in the lineup," Jeter said. "No big deal."

Jeter entered play Sunday batting .280 with eight home runs and 39 RBIs in 66 games this year.

Gaga makes waves, but visit may be last

NEW YORK -- The Yankees have welcomed their fair share of celebrities to the Bronx over the years, so Lady Gaga's visit to the team clubhouse wasn't the first cameo by an entertainer.

But the singer made waves with the impromptu clubhouse visit after the Yankees' 4-0 loss to the Mets on Friday night at Yankee Stadium, during which she was greeted by players, including Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano. According to a report by the New York Post, Lady Gaga appeared to be intoxicated.

The Post reported on Sunday that Yankees co-chairman Hal Steinbrenner has informed stadium executives that Lady Gaga is not welcome in the clubhouse.

Sources told the newspaper that the singer, whose real name is Stefani Germanotta, and two friends talked their way past stadium security.

"If you listen to the stations, she's all over the place," Cano said. "She's a great singer and she's doing pretty good. She's a great singer, I can tell you that."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he believes his team tends to draw celebrity attention because "this is a fun place to watch a ballgame," but said his players can draw the line between entertainment and their responsibilities on the field.

"Our guys know that when it's time to play, it's time to play," Girardi said. "Celebrities have been coming out to different venues forever, whether you turn on a Lakers game or celebrities used to flock to watch Michael Jordan play. Our clubhouse, from an hour before the game, is our little sanctuary."

The incident on Friday came just a week after Lady Gaga was seen gesturing inappropriately from a luxury box at the Mets' Citi Field on June 11.

'Extreme Makeover' pays visit to Stadium

NEW YORK -- Ty Pennington, the host of ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," carried a bullhorn with him to the mound at Yankee Stadium. For one Long Island family, he had big news to announce.

The television show surprised the Lutz family of East Setauket, N.Y., in a coordinated effort before Sunday's Subway Series game, revealing that they will be the latest recipients of the program's seven-day home rebuilding efforts.

Grace and John Lutz were unable to have children of their own and adopted 18 children, including seven with Down Syndrome. After the couple passed away, their daughter, Kathleen, gave up her career and came home to take care of six Down siblings, who range in age from 20 to 25 years. Kathleen Lutz then had an unexpected grand mal seizure and was diagnosed with inoperable cancer. Her brother, John Jr., then sacrificed his career as a gymnastics coach to move home and care for his siblings.

Their crumbling 40-year-old home is in need of repairs, however, with unsafe wiring, water leaks and wood rot. While the program renovates their home, they will enjoy a vacation in the Hamptons.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi, second baseman Robinson Cano and outfielder Nick Swisher were among those who greeted the Lutzes before the game. The episode is scheduled to air later this season, according to ABC.

Worth noting

Yankees right-hander Alfredo Aceves (lower back stiffness) said he expects to travel to Tampa, Fla., on Monday to continue his throwing program. ... Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that it is "possible" they might summon another bat before their road trip to see the D-backs and Dodgers. ... Due to Sunday's warm and humid conditions, Girardi said he would pay special attention to third baseman Alex Rodriguez and outfielder Curtis Granderson regarding dehydration and their previous muscle-related injuries.