A-Rod tags homer No. 564 as Sabathia, Yanks stomp sloppy Mets

NEW YORK -- Reggie Jackson gave Alex Rodriguez a hug in the visiting clubhouse. A-Rod had just hit his 564th home run, moving past Mr. October into 11th place on the career list.

"Reggie's a close friend and a mentor," Rodriguez said after his two-run drive helped the Yankees beat the Mets 9-1 Friday night in the first Subway Series game at Citi Field. "Reggie is an American icon."

CC Sabathia (7-4) bounced back from biceps tightness to stifle the Mets on three hits over seven innings as the Yankees won their third straight after losing five of six.

Fill-in leadoff batter Brett Gardner raised his average 22 points to .303 with a career-high five hits, including his third homer of the season and a triple. Ramiro Pena had two doubles and a single as a late replacement in the starting lineup for flu-stricken Derek Jeter, sidelined by a cough and a fever.

And this time, the Mets didn't wait until the last play of the game to be done in by their defense against the Yankees.

Errors by third baseman David Wright, shortstop Alex Cora and first baseman Nick Evans helped the Yankees to a 4-0 second-inning lead, and they beat their crosstown rival for the third time in four meetings this season.

"There was a point there, I started laughing," said Mike Pelfrey (5-3), who dropped to 1/3 in his last nine starts. "You want the ball to get hit to those guys. They make great plays all the time. That was just weird."

Rodriguez made it 7-1 in the eighth off Elmer Dessen with his 11th homer this season, the first opposite-field drive at Citi Field by a right-handed hitter. Before connecting at Atlanta's Turner Field on Thursday, Rodriguez hadn't hit one on the road since his first swing this season, on May 8 at Baltimore.

Actress Kate Hudson, who has attended some of A-Rod's recent games, looked on as the ball landed in the right-center field bullpens -- Rodriguez even got the ball back. It's been a tumultuous year for A-Rod, who in February admitted using steroids from 2001-3, then had hip surgery and missed the first month.

"The negativity that surrounds the steroids is certainly not something that I carry over to him," Jackson said. "I do appreciate the fact that he admitted his mistakes, so from here we move forward. Judgment on him will be passed with the next 7 1/2 years of his time with the Yankees."

Jackson was sixth when he retired in 1987, trailing only Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Frank Robinson and Harmon Killebrew. He's since been passed by Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr., Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro and A-Rod.

"You get used to it really," Jackson said.

The Mets drew their second straight sellout, a Citi Field record crowd of 41,278. After selling out the opener, the Mets fell short for 34 consecutive games before a discount-assisted full house Thursday afternoon against St. Louis.

Fans got to see the Mets' first three-error inning in five years, and Sabathia was the beneficiary. He left Sunday's start at Florida after 1 1/3 innings because of tightness in his left biceps.

His arm appeared to be fine Friday, with the stadium radar clocking him at up to 98 mph, and he started 18 of 24 batters with strikes. He retired his first 12 batters, struck out eight and walked one.

"When he's like that, you're not going to score many runs," Wright said.

Pelfrey allowed four runs -- two earned -- and six hits in five innings. The Mets, who remained one-half game behind NL East-leading Philadelphia, had all their hits in the fifth. Gary Sheffield, who had missed four games with a bad knee, returned from a cortisone shot and led off with his 508th homer. With two on and one out, Sabathia struck out Omir Santos and pinch-hitter Argenis Reyes.

"Nothing was going right. But we had a shot to get back in the game," Sheffield said. "When you get that one shot, that's when you have to bear down."

Pena hit an RBI double in the second and scored on a single by Sabathia, his 14th career RBI. Then came the fielding follies.

Exactly two weeks earlier in the first Subway Series at new Yankee Stadium, second baseman Luis Castillo dropped what would have been a game-ending popup by Rodriguez, allowing two runs to score and giving the Yankees a shocking 9-8 win.

"We played a bad game. It was just one of those nights," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "I think probably some of it is due because of the amount of players that we have missing."

Game notes
New York Knicks draft pick Jordan Hill threw out the ceremonial first pitch. ... The Mets had a three-error ninth in an 11-4 loss to St. Louis on May 20, 2004: 1B Mike Piazza, SS Kaz Matsui and 3B Todd Zeile.