OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Alex Rodriguez hit a three-run homer, Javier Vazquez finally showed the form that made him a 15-game winner last season and the New York Yankees beat the Oakland Athletics 7-3 on Tuesday night for their fifth straight victory.
Nick Swisher hit a two-run single against his former team and Jorge Posada also singled home a run in New York's three-run first inning against Gio Gonzalez (1-1). The reigning World Series champions carried the momentum from a 5-1 homestand as they kicked off a nine-game, 10-day road trip that also takes them to Anaheim and Baltimore.
A-Rod's drive to the top of the elevated stands in left-center came against reliever Craig Breslow in the fifth, giving the slugger 585 career homers. Rodriguez's second of the year also moved him within one of tying Frank Robinson for seventh place on the career list.
Kurt Suzuki hit a two-run homer and Travis Buck had a solo shot for the surprising first-place A's, who were coming off their first off day of the season after playing 14 straight to start the year.
Vazquez (1-2), who entered his third 2010 start with a 9.82 ERA, allowed three runs and six hits in 5 1-3 innings, struck out six and walked three. Boone Logan relieved to make his Yankees debut, but the game was delayed 13 minutes right after he took the mound when plate umpire Ed Rapuano left after taking an earlier foul ball from Kevin Kouzmanoff on the chin. Rapuano was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital for a CT scan, but the A's said he was alert when he left the ballpark.
Joba Chamberlain entered with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh and struck out Kouzmanoff. After Damaso Marte walked pinch-hitter Jake Fox to start the ninth, Mariano Rivera relieved and finished it.
Derek Jeter returned to the New York lineup after missing Sunday's series finale against Texas with a cold. He also came out of Saturday's game early because he felt ill. He went 0 for 5 with a strikeout.
Eric Chavez doubled and singled but Vazquez otherwise had his way with most of Oakland's lineup until Buck led off the fifth with his first homer of the year. Suzuki connected in the sixth.
A's first baseman Daric Barton, who left Sunday's loss to the Baltimore Orioles with a bruise above his right elbow, was in the lineup after an MRI exam Monday showed no structural damage. Second baseman Mark Ellis also returned after missing the previous seven games with a left hamstring injury but was replaced on defense in the sixth because of soreness in the hamstring.
The announced crowd of 19,849 — it wasn't nearly that high — was dismal considering the Yankees typically draw well when they visit the Bay Area. New York took last year's season series 7-2, winning two of three at the Coliseum. The Yankees return again July 5-7.
NOTES: A moment of silence was held before the game for Rockies president Keli McGregor, who was found dead in his hotel room in Salt Lake City on Tuesday. ... Coming into the game, Swisher was a lifetime .200 hitter vs. the A's with just two RBIs. He was 0 for 3 against Gonzalez. ... Yankees ace CC Sabathia, back home in his native Northern California, threw out the ceremonial first pitch Monday night at the North Vallejo Little League Spring Classic on a field his foundation helped rebuild. ... LF Brett Gardner started against the lefty Gonzalez. ... Oakland reliever Michael Wuertz, on the DL with shoulder tendinitis, will pitch a third rehab outing for Triple-A Sacramento on Wednesday. ... It was a chilly 50 degrees at the game's start. ... Golden State Warriors center Ronny Turiaf threw out the ceremonial first pitch.