for this game

A-Rod finally comes through for Yankees

Jun 25, 2009 - 3:44 AM By PAUL NEWBERRY AP Sports Writer

ATLANTA(AP) -- The New York Yankees must have been wondering if they'd ever get a hit, much less score a run.

Then Joe Girardi got tossed, Francisco Cervelli hit an unlikely home run and Alex Rodriguez finally came through.

Sparked by their manager's ejection, the Yankees broke out offensively to beat the Atlanta Braves 8-4 Wednesday night, snapping a three-game losing streak.

New York didn't even have a baserunner through the first five innings. But Cervelli hit his first career homer to break a 14-inning scoreless drought in Atlanta, and the slumping Rodriguez managed a two-run single that put the Yankees ahead to stay in the sixth. The Yankees had scored only 18 runs in their previous seven games, losing five.

"We have too many good hitters to stay in a slump," Girardi said.

The manager gave his team a little extra boost in the sixth.

With the Braves ahead 1-0, Kris Medlen (2-3) walked leadoff hitter Brett Gardner, who was promptly picked off. Girardi raced out to argue with first-base umpire Bill Welke - television replays showed the Yankees had a legitimate beef - and kept arguing until he was ejected.

That seemed to fire up New York.

Cervelli, the team's No. 2 catcher, got the start after Jorge Posada struck out four times Tuesday and came through with his homer into the first row of seats in left, evening the score at 1. After pitcher Joba Chamberlain lined out, Derek Jeter singled to left, Johnny Damon lined a single to center and Mark Teixeira walked to load the bases.

The Braves brought on Jeff Bennett to face Rodriguez, having a miserable season since missing the first month with a hip injury. He was batting just .204 and quickly fell behind 0-2 in the count. Bennett barely missed the strikeout when Rodriguez fouled a pitch off the glove of catcher Brian McCann, who stared at his empty mitt in disgust.

Rodriguez lined the next pitch - an 0-2 fastball - into right-center for a two-run single. Clearly relieved, he clapped his hands and exchanged a slap with first-base coach Mick Kelleher.

"It's been frustrating not to get the big hits," Rodriguez said. "I knew this year was going to be a process. But the last two days have been the best I've felt. I told (Girardi) yesterday that I felt like it was opening day."

With a sly grin, Girardi conceded that he was determined to get thrown out when he went out to argue with Welke.

"If we'll score eight runs after I get ejected," Girardi said, "I'll do it when I take out the lineup card."

Chamberlain (4-2) went 6 1-3 innings, giving up two earned runs for his first win in four starts. After Jeff Francoeur's two-out single in the eighth made it 6-4, the Yankees called on closer Mariano Rivera with the potential tying runs on base. He struck out Kelly Johnson and the side in the ninth for his 498th career save and 16th this season.

Rivera even got a chance to bat, lining out to center in the ninth. The entire Yankees dugout was laughing when he stepped into the box.

"That's not what you really want to see," Girardi said. "But he had quite a swing."

So was Cervelli's in the sixth.

"It was a special moment," he said. "I didn't think it was a home run. I thought it was a double or something like that."

Atlanta had pitched two straight shutouts, blanking the Chicago Cubs in a makeup game Monday before beating the Yankees 4-0 on Tuesday. The Braves stretched their scoreless streak to 23 innings with a 1-0 lead through five despite losing starter Kenshin Kawakami, who was struck at the base of the neck with a liner in the third.

The injury wasn't serious, but Kawakami didn't return.

After five stellar innings, the Braves suddenly fell apart. McCann had two throwing errors and reliever Eric O'Flaherty was late covering first, giving the Yankees an extra out.

"It was weird," McCann said. "Very weird."

Nick Swisher led off the seventh with a homer, stretching New York's lead to 4-1, and had a great catch in the bottom half. Turning three different ways, he looked back in time to catch Nate McLouth's drive, keeping him to a sacrifice fly that made it 4-3.

New York restored its three-run lead in the top of the eighth, scoring on McCann's first errant throw and Swisher's RBI groundout. Damon and Teixeira added run-scoring hits in the ninth.

The Braves broke a scoreless duel in the fifth when Francoeur went deep, his first homer since June 2.

NOTES: Kawakami was listed as day to day. ... As a hitter, Rivera is 0 for 2 during the regular season and 0 for 3 in the postseason.






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    ATL - KENSHIN KAWAKAMI, KRIS MEDLEN (4TH), JEFF BENNETT
    (6

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