July 29 (Bloomberg) -- Derek Jeter hit a home run on the first pitch he faced in his return from a strained thigh, helping the New York Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays 6-5.
Jeter missed the first 91 games of the Major League Baseball season while recovering from a fractured left ankle. He strained his quadriceps muscle while running the bases in his return on July 11, forcing him to miss another 12 games.
“It feels good to contribute,” said Jeter, who went 2-for-4 with two runs scored. “The first of anything is difficult to get -- first hit, first home run, first RBI. It feels great to contribute, but more importantly, we won.”
Jeter’s homer was the Yankees’ first since the All-Star break and the team’s second by a right-handed hitter since May 15, according to MLB.com. Jayson Nix on June 25 had the only other home run by a Yankees’ right-handed hitter in that span.
“We hadn’t hit a home run since the All-Star break, we hadn’t hit a right-handed home run in months and for him to come out and do that his first at-bat -- he’s a movie,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi told reporters.
Alfonso Soriano had four hits, including a two-run homer and a game-winning, run-scoring single in the bottom of the ninth inning, in his third game with the Yankees since being acquired in a July 26 trade with the Chicago Cubs.
The Yankees, who lost the first two games of the series, improved to 55-50 and are 7 1/2 games behind the Boston Red Sox (63-43) in the American League Eastern Division.
The Red Sox have a half-game over the Rays (62-43) after beating the Baltimore Orioles 5-0 yesterday behind seven scoreless innings from Jon Lester. The Orioles (58-48) are in third place in the division.
The Los Angeles Dodgers improved to 9-1 since the All-Star break by defeating the Cincinnati Reds 1-0 yesterday on a solo homer by rookie Yasiel Puig in the bottom of the 11th inning.
The Washington Nationals won their third straight game against the New York Mets, rolling to a 14-1 rout as catcher Wilson Ramos had a grand slam and five runs batted in.
The Atlanta Braves completed their first three-game home sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals in 10 years with a 5-2 win in a matchup of National League division leaders.
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