for this game

A-Rod homers twice, leads Yankees over Rays

Apr 18, 2015 - 3:55 AM St. Petersburg, FL ( - Alex Rodriguez belted a pair of long home runs, then came through with a go-ahead RBI single in the eighth inning to lift the New York Yankees to a 5-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.

Rodriguez finished 3-for-4 with four RBI in the controversial slugger's best game since returning from his year-long suspension for PED use.

"Hopefully it keeps going," said Rodriguez of his surprising strong start.

Rodriguez's effort, as well as an equally outstanding performance from the New York bullpen, helped the Yankees claim the opener of this three-game series.

Dellin Betances (2-0) picked up the victory with a scoreless inning of work, combining with three other Yankee relievers to shut the Rays out over the final five frames.

Stephen Drew added a solo homer for New York, which avoided its first 3-7 start to a season since 1989.

Tampa Bay's Allan Dykstra smashed his first career major league homer, a three-run blast in the fourth inning that preceded a solo shot from Logan Forsythe.

Forsythe ended 3-for-4 for a Rays team that returned home having won five of six to conclude a seven-game road swing.

Kevin Jepsen (0-1) entered for Tampa Bay with the game tied at 4-4 after seven innings and was greeted by a leadoff single from Carlos Beltran. The right- hander set down the next two batters, but pinch-runner Brett Gardner swiped second with Rodriguez at the plate to put the lead run in scoring position.

Rodriguez then worked the count full before delivering a sinking liner that fell in front of Kevin Kiermaier in center field as Gardner raced home without a throw.

"Without Alex, we were going to lose that ballgame," Yankees manager Joe Girardi remarked.

Andrew Miller protected the lead by striking out three straight after permitting Forsythe's leadoff single in the ninth, notching a four-out save upon taking over for Betances with none on in the eighth.

Prior to Rodriguez' clutch hit in the eighth, all of the game's scoring had come via the home run.

Rodriguez began the power display with a mammoth homer off Nathan Karns in the second inning, an estimated 471-foot blast that landed on the concourse well behind the center-field wall.

Drew swatted his 100th career homer with two out in the top of the fourth to extend New York's lead to 2-0, but Yankees starter Adam Warren faltered in the bottom of the frame after mostly breezing through the first three innings.

Evan Longoria's infield single and a walk to Desmond Jennings put two on for Dykstra, who crushed Warren's 2-0 pitch off the foul pole in right to put Tampa Bay in front.

"The timing of it was definitely awesome," said Dykstra of his first career homer.

Forsythe connected just four pitches later to give the Rays a 4-2 advantage.

Karns didn't allow a hit other than the two long balls, but was removed after throwing 106 pitches through five innings. The righty walked four and struck out seven.

Ernesto Frieri relieved Karns in the sixth and walked Brian McCann with one out. Rodriguez followed with his 658th career homer, a rocket line drive inside the left-field foul pole that knotted the score at 4-4.

Warren lasted just four innings in his fifth career major league start, surrendering four runs on six hits. Esmil Rogers took over in the fifth and spun 2 1/3 scoreless frames to aid the Yankees' comeback.

Game Notes

Rodriguez recorded his first multi-homer game since May 23, 2012 against Kansas City ... Gardner was out of the starting lineup for a third consecutive game due to a sore right wrist, caused by being hit by a pitch Monday at Baltimore ... Drew joined his older brother, J.D., as the eighth pair of siblings in major league history to both reach the 100-homer milestone ... Frieri has allowed three homers in 5 1/3 innings this season and 37 since 2011, most among major league relievers ... Karns has given up six homers in 15 2/3 innings at Tropicana Field ... Beltran's eighth-inning single was his 1,000th hit as an American League player.