Published June 20, 2012
NEW YORK – The New York Yankees rarely go homer for homer against another team and lose. Jason Heyward ensured they would.
Heyward hit two of a record nine homers — seven solo shots — at the new Yankee Stadium and the Atlanta Braves outslugged New York for a 10-5 victory Wednesday in the sweltering heat.
Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano and Eric Chavez each hit solo homers off Tommy Hanson (8-4) but did little else on the first day of summer, a sticky afternoon in which the temperature at first pitch was 94 degrees. The loss was New York's second straight after a 10-game winning streak.
"We're a club that's going to score most of our runs by hitting home runs," manager Joe Girardi said. "But I believe eventually it's going to turn around."
Freddie Freeman hit a two-run shot to join Heyward, Martin Prado and David Ross, who all connected off Phil Hughes (7-6) to build a 6-1 lead for Atlanta.
The Yankees pulled to 6-5 on Curtis Granderson's RBI single in the seventh and had runners on first and third with Rodriguez at the plate. A-Rod grounded into an inning-ending double play and the Braves pulled away in the eighth by scoring three runs, two on Heyward's second homer, off Boone Logan.
"We're really, really good when Jason's swinging the bat well," Ross said.
Rodriguez is batting .215 (14 for 65) with runners in scoring position.
"It's been up and down, like a lot of our other hitters," Girardi said of Rodriguez's season.
Michael Bourn stole what might've been another home run, from Jayson Nix, after missing an earlier opportunity for a try at a leaping grab.
Even though he didn't start in a day game after playing Tuesday night, Chipper Jones still was a factor early. In the final year of a Hall of Fame-worthy career, Jones was honored before his last regular-season game against the Yankees. On behalf of the organization, Jeter and former Braves teammate Andruw Jones gave Chipper third base from Tuesday's game. In 19 years with Atlanta, Chipper Jones faced the Yankees in two World Series.
With the sun beating down on the crowd of 45,094, the public address announcer urged fans to visit the cooling stations set up along the concourses.
Girardi emphasized how important it was to be aggressive early on a day that felt as if it were over 100 degrees with the oppressive humidity. The Braves were.
Bourn singled leading off and, with two outs, stole second without a throw. He scored on Dan Uggla's single to left. Freeman wasted no time, connecting on the first pitch he saw for a two-run drive into the New York bullpen in right-center to make it 3-0.
"You like to get off to a smooth start," Hughes said. "You need to get a good rhythm and I really didn't find that."
Jeter got one back with his fourth leadoff homer of the season, hitting Hanson's first pitch into the stands in right-center.
"When Jeter caught that one in the first, I was like, 'Here we go,'" Ross said.
Hanson gave up only one hit after Jeter's homer until Chavez led off the fifth with a drive to straightaway center field. Bourn watched the ball clear the fence and land in the netting over Monument Park then jumped and smacked his hand to his glove.
Bourn made the play he wanted after a walk to Russell Martin, ranging far to his right to snare Nix's fly above the wall to protect a 6-2 lead.
Heyward stood at the fence in right field and watched Rodriguez's high fly leading off the sixth carry into the stands for his 640th career homer. The RBI was A-Rod's 1,925th, breaking a tie with Jimmie Foxx for sole possession of sixth on the career list.
Cano followed with a smash deep into the stands in right-center to end Hanson's day for the Yankees' third back-to-back homers of the season — one was three in a row.
Hanson matched a career high with the four homers allowed. He came in 6-0 with a 1.22 ERA against AL East teams, but gave up four runs in five-plus innings.
All season Hughes has been hurt by the homer, giving up at least one in each of his first 12 starts before keeping the ball in the park in his previous outing. The career-most four allowed Wednesday boosted his total to a majors-leading 19 this year.
"He just didn't have great location today," Girardi said.
NOTES: The Yankees dropped to 18-1 when Rodriguez drives in a run this season. ... Teams had combined three times to hit eight homers at the ballpark that opened in 2009. ... Mark Teixeira was out of the Yankees' starting lineup after he was hit on the left foot by Heyward's hard grounder Tuesday night. Girardi said the first baseman was still sore. He doubled as a pinch-hitter in the eighth. ... Former Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams was chosen as manager of the World Team in the All-Star weekend Futures Game for minor leaguers on Sunday, July 8 in Kansas City.