ARLINGTON, Texas -- Alex Rodriguez homered on his 40th birthday to help the New York Yankees to a 6-2 victory over the Texas Rangers in the opener of a four-game series before 33,691 Monday night at Globe Life Park.
Rodriguez tied Mark Teixeira for the club home run lead with 24 on a low drive just over the right-field wall in the sixth inning off Matt Harrison. A-Rod, booed by the crowd on every plate appearance, continued his home run climb to 678, fourth on the all-time list.
What it means: The Yankees (56-42) increased their lead in the American League East to seven games. New York defeated Texas (47-51) for the first time this season. The Rangers swept a three-game series at Yankee Stadium in May.
Mound report: Ivan Nova lasted only five innings on a hot night, but left the game with a 4-2 lead thanks to a knack for pitching out of trouble. Nova induced a pair of weak grounders to work out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fourth inning. With two on in the fifth, Nova retired Adrian Beltre on a fly to deep left for the final out.
Starting point: The bottom of the order for the second day in a row jump-started the Yankees' offense. Didi Gregorius, hitting in the eighth spot, drilled a Matt Harrison pitch into the right-field stands in the third inning for a 2-2 tie.
Chase Headley, on base with a leadoff single, scored ahead of Gregorius. The previous four home runs this season for the left-handed hitting Gregorius came off right-handers. Brendan Ryan, batting ninth, tripled to right and scored on Chris Young’s sacrifice fly for a 3-2 lead.
In the seventh, Gregorius greeted reliever Sam Freeman with a two-run single, giving the shortstop his first career four-RBI game. Headley and Gregorius had three-hit nights.
Flashing leather: Headley, the Yanks’ error leader, made a superb stop on Adrian Beltre’s smash in the second inning. ... Earlier in the frame, left fielder Young had to sprint almost to the infield dirt to catch Mitch Moreland’s fly ball. Gregorius was shifted on the other side of second base for Moreland. ... In the fifth, Gregorius, shaded behind second for Shin-Soo Choo, smothered an awkward hop for the second out.
Him again: Teixeira raised both hands to his helmet in frustration when Rangers center fielder Leonys Martin made a leaping catch at the top of the wall for the first out in the second inning. Martin waited a moment before showing that he had indeed come down with the baseball, prompting Teixeira’s reaction.
Teixeira showed emotion again -- anger this time -- in the eighth when he was thrown out at the plate by Martin while trying to score from second on a shallow single.
Up next: Game 2 of the four-game series is set for 8:05 p.m. Tuesday at Globe Life Park. The Yankees so far haven't named a starter. Left-hander Martin Perez (0-1, 4.91 ERA) will go for the Rangers.