Alex Rodriguez Hits Home Run as Yankees Rally to Win Over Tigers

The New York Yankees pulled out a 5-4 win over Detroit after Mariano Rivera blew a third straight save chance for the first time in his career and Alex Rodriguez hit his first Major League Baseball home run in 11 months.

Brett Gardner’s a game-ending solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning gave the Yankees the victory yesterday in the finale of a three-game series in New York. Rivera allowed a pair of solo homers to the Tigers in the top of the ninth inning to blow a 4-2 lead.

“I think Mo has bailed us out quite a few times,” Gardner told reporters. “Things like that happen. That’s the first time I’ve ever hit a walk-off homer. It might be the last. It didn’t matter if it was me or someone else, we just needed to get a win.”

With the victory, the Yankees improved to 59-57 and avoided falling to .500 on the season. The American League Central Division-leading Tigers (69-47) lost for just the second time in 15 games.

Rodriguez, who is playing while appealing a 211-game drug suspension, hit his first major-league home run since Sept. 14.

Rodriguez returned to the Yankees’ lineup on Aug. 5 after missing 110 games while recovering from offseason hip surgery and then a mild quadriceps strain. He was 3-for-15 this season - - with no hits off right-handed pitchers -- before sending a fastball from Justin Verlander, a right-hander and the 2011 American League Cy Young Award winner, into the left-field seats in the second inning.

“You want to turn boos into cheers, you want to go out and make them proud,” Rodriguez said of the ovation he received. “All you want is really an opportunity and a chance. I think New York always gives you that. I certainly feel that way walking around the city. The support has never been stronger in my 10 years. I’m very thankful.”

It was the 648th career homer for Rodriguez, pulling him within 12 of Willie Mays for the fourth-most all-time.

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