Alex Rodriguez tied Willie Mays for fourth place in major league history with his 660th home run, breaking an eighth-inning tie with a pinch-hit shot that sent the New York Yankees to a 3-2 win over the Boston Red Sox on Friday night.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi left Rodriguez out of the starting lineup to rest, but sent him up to bat for Garrett Jones with one out in the eighth.
Rodriguez ran the count to 3-0, then lined a fastball from Junichi Tazawa (0-1) into the left-field seats above the Green Monster — his first career homer as a pinch hitter — and jogged around the bases to boos from the crowd at Fenway Park, where he made his major league debut with Seattle in 1994.
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"I really like this place," Rodriguez said.
Mays saluted Rodriguez in a statement released by the San Francisco Giants.
"Congratulations to Alex Rodriguez on his 660th home run. Milestones in baseball are meant to be broken and I wish him continued success throughout his career," the Hall of Famer said.
The Yankees' reaction was a bit subdued for a teammate who was suspended all last season for his involvement in the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drug scandal. Players stayed in the dugout, applauding. But when A-Rod arrived, Girardi gave him a high-five and teammates shook his hand and enthusiastically patted him on the back.
Asked how fans should remember No. 660, Rodriguez said: "I don't know. I know that I'm very excited. A year ago today I never thought I'd be hitting home runs and helping the Yankees win. Being in the middle of it is fun again."
The milestone homer could set up a legal showdown with the team over a $6 million payment.
Rodriguez and the Yankees have a $30 million marketing agreement that calls for payments of $6 million each for up to five accomplishments, payable within 15 days of designation by the team. The accomplishments were contemplated to be home runs 660, 714, 755, 762 and 763.
The Yankees, though, are thinking about letting the milestones pass without making a designation. Due to his drug suspension, the marketing possibilities for the milestones have been ruined, the Yankees appear to be set to argue.
Still, only three players have hit more homers than Rodriguez — Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714).
Rodriguez's sixth homer this season came after he had struggled over his previous 10 games, going 5 for 37 with one homer and two RBIs. His 659th came on Sunday, but he was 0 for 6 in his most recent game with four strikeouts and a game-ending double play in a 3-2 loss in 13 innings to the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday night.
"I haven't been very good in my career pinch hitting. I don't have a lot of experience," Rodriguez said. "Joe had a conversation with me early this spring and he wanted us to take 3-0 swinging a little bit more serious, be a little bit more assertive. I literally heard his voice right before that pitch, and he gave me a good pitch to hit and I put a good swing on it."
Esmil Rogers (1-1) got the win by pitching a scoreless seventh. Andrew Miller worked a perfect ninth for his ninth save.
With right-hander Justin Masterson starting for Boston, the Yankees had six lefties and three switch-hitters in the starting lineup. Rodriguez bats right-handed.
The Yankees scored in the first on an RBI double by Carlos Beltran after a single by Jacoby Ellsbury and a walk to Mark Teixeira.
The Red Sox tied it in the third when Xander Bogaerts doubled, took third on a flyout by Ryan Hanigan and scored on a sacrifice fly by Mookie Betts.
Allen Craig's first homer of the season in just his sixth start put Boston ahead 2-1 in the fourth.
Then New York tied it at 2 in the seventh when Didi Gregorius walked, went to second when Teixeira was hit by a pitch and scored on a single by Brian McCann.
CC Sabathia had a solid outing after losing his four other starts this year. He gave up two runs and seven hits in six innings. Masterson allowed two runs on six hits in six innings.
Yankees: LHP Chris Capuano and RHP Ivan Nova are expected to throw Saturday. Both are on the disabled list — Capuano with a strained right quadriceps and Nova while recovering from right elbow surgery.
Red Sox: Hanigan left in the seventh after hurting his right hand. A pitch from Tommy Layne hit Teixeira on his right wrist and the ball ricocheted off Hanigan. Teixeira and Hanigan both flung their arms in pain simultaneously. Teixeira stayed in the game but Hanigan was replaced by Sandy Leon.
Yankees: RHP Nathan Eovaldi (1-0, 4.15 ERA) pitches the second game of the three-game series Saturday. The Yankees acquired him in December from Miami. The Marlins had Eovaldi him from Los Angeles in a July 2012 deal that sent current Red Sox LF Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers.
Red Sox: LHP Wade Miley (1-2, 8.62) tries to bounce back from his second start this season in which he failed to get out of the third inning. He gave up seven runs in 2 1-3 innings Sunday in an 18-7 loss at Baltimore.
AP Baseball Writer Janie McCauley in San Francisco contributed to this report.