A-Rod becomes youngest to reach milestone

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- It was just a matter of time before Alex Rodriguez and the New York Yankees snapped out of it -- at least for a day.

A-Rod became the youngest member of the 400-homer club and a change in their routine got the Yankees back on the winning track with a 12-3 rout of the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday night.

"It was a very special day for me, especially if you do it in a win that we needed most desperately," Rodriguez said after the Yankees won for just the second time in 11 games.

Manager Joe Torre went to drastic measures to snap his slumping team out of its latest funk, canceling batting practice, juggling his lineup -- sitting Hideki Matsui for the first eight innings -- and even getting ejected for arguing.

It worked.

A team that had hit .195 overall and .140 with runners in scoring position while losing seven of their first eight games on a season-long 12-game road trip, collected 16 hits and scored its most runs in two weeks.

Mike Mussina (6-4) was the beneficiary of the offensive breakthrough led by Rodriguez, who homered twice, went 4-for-4 and drove in four runs -- his first RBI of the trip.

Rodriguez's two-run shot off left-hander Chris Capuano in the first inning was his 399th, and his solo shot off left-hander Jorge de la Rosa in the eighth made the 29-year-old third baseman the 40th player in major-league history to reach 400 homers.

"That's pretty incredible," Torre said. "The shape he's in, the way he works, who knows where he's going."

The crowd of 37,586 gave A-Rod a polite standing ovation as he circled the bases.

"It's a special number," Rodriguez said. "I'm actually just excited to do it with this uniform on."

New York batting practice pitcher Roman Rodriguez caught the historic homer in the Yankees' bullpen and acted like he was going to flip it into the stands before holding onto it with a sly smile.

A-Rod posed for pictures with his bat and ball after the game.

Mussina gave up three runs and six hits in six innings, including Carlos Lee's 15th homer. He walked one and struck out eight.

"I think we were just hoping for a nice win," Mussina said. "It didn't have to be 12-3, but today we got some big hits. It's been a tough trip so far, but hopefully we can pull something out of this as we go to the last city of the four [St. Louis]."

Derek Jeter and rookie Robinson Cano also homered for the Yankees, who tagged Capuano (5-5) for seven runs, five earned,
eight hits and three walks in four-plus innings, denying the Brewers a three-game sweep.

"You just know it's just a matter of time," Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said. "You're hard-fetched to find a better lineup than that in all of baseball."

Among the backups inserted into the Yankees lineup was Ruben Sierra, who collected a season-high three hits in his first start in left field this season.

"Any GM or manager would love to have that lineup," Brewers infielder Bill Hall said. "Those guys can hit. It's still early in the season. They're not that far out yet. So, they've got nothing to worry about if they keep swinging the bats like that."

The only damper for Torre was he wasn't around to relish it in its entirety because he was ejected along with first baseman Tino Martinez for arguing with first base umpire Larry Vanover in the fifth inning.

"Yeah, Tino and I watched together," Torre said. "I blamed him for getting me thrown out."

Martinez, starting at first base because Jason Giambi was a late scratch with back spasms, hit a ground-rule double to give New York a 4-2 lead. Martinez was replaced by Russ Johnson after getting ejected an inning later.

Jeter's sixth homer, a solo shot, came off Julio Santana in the sixth. Cano's homer was a two-run shot off Wes Obermueller in the seventh, his fourth of the season and the first pinch-hit homer of his career.

Matsui, who had a pinch-hit single in the ninth, hadn't missed a start since Sept. 26, 2003, when he wasn't in the starting lineup for either game of a doubleheader against Baltimore. He appeared in both of those games and has played in all 384 games since joining the Yankees in 2003. Including his career in Japan, he has played in 1,634 consecutive games. That would be third on the all-time list behind Cal Ripken Jr. and Lou Gehrig.

"We won the game, and I had a great base hit, too," Matsui said. "I can't complain."

Game notes
Torre said right-hander Kevin Brown (sore left shoulder) would miss his turn Friday and right-hander Chien-Ming Wang would take his spot in the rotation for one game. ... Ken Griffey, Jr. was 30 when he hit his 400th homer. ... A-Rod has four multihomer games this year and 40 in his career.