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Rodriguez Now Within One Of 600-Home Run Plateau

Bronx, NY (Sports Network) – Alex Rodriguez hit home run No. 599 and drove in four runs total, and the Yankees defeated the Royals, 10-4, in the start to a four-game series at Yankee Stadium.

Rodriguez hit his 16th homer of the season and second in four games for the Yankees, who have won 12 of 15 overall. Derek Jeter added his second career inside-the-park home run, while Nick Swisher hit a two-run double in the win.

CC Sabathia (13-3) won for the ninth time in 10 starts after laboring through 6 1/3 frames, giving up four runs (three earned) on 11 hits and four walks while fanning nine.

Willie Bloomquist registered three hits, while Wilson Betemit and Scott Podsednik each had two hits and an RBI for the Royals, who have lost eight of 10. Mike Aviles had two hits and scored a run, and Billy Butler recorded two hits in defeat.

Bruce Chen (5-4) yielded five runs on nine hits and two walks in six frames to take the loss.

After a questionable call cost the Royals a run in the top of the fifth, the Yankees went ahead for good in the home half.

Robinson Cano singled with one away and raced all the way around to score on Jorge Posada’s double. Posada scampered to third on a wild pitch to Marcus Thames, who then lofted a sacrifice fly to left for a 5-3 advantage.

A wacky play allowed the Royals to creep to within one in the sixth. With a runner on third and one out, Yuniesky Betancourt swung over a pitch in the dirt. Because of the dropped third strike, Betancourt took off for first. Posada inexplicably fired it toward third in an attempt to retire that runner, but his throw sailed into left field, allowing a run to score and Betancourt to advance to second.

Rodriguez, though, restored the Yankees’ two-run lead with a one-out blast to right off Robinson Tejeda in the seventh inning.

The Royals loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth off Joba Chamberlain, but Jose Guillen grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.

Swisher gave New York some insurance in the home half with a two-run double, which was followed by Mark Teixeira’s RBI single for a 9-4 lead. The base hit gave Rodriguez an opportunity to hit his 600th career home run, but he settled for an RBI double that increased the Yanks’ lead to six.

A one-out single by Jason Kendall and a two-out base hit by Butler in the opening inning put runners on the corners for Guillen, whose double to left plated a run.

Betemit followed with a single to left, scoring Butler easily. Betemit attempted to stretch the play into a double, but was thrown out at second just ahead of Guillen scoring. Guillen, who was not running particularly hard, had his potential run wiped off the scoreboard.

The Yankees came right back to tie the game on Rodriguez’s two-run ground-rule double, but the Royals re-took the lead in the second on Podsednik’s run- scoring single.

Jeter opened up the home third with his inside-the-park shot, which was nearly caught by Royals outfielder David DeJesus. DeJesus had the ball in his glove until his wrist slammed into the wall at nearly a 90-degree angle, causing him to drop the ball and crumple down in pain. He left the game after Jeter circled the bases easily, tying the score at three.

The Royals appeared to take the lead in the fifth on a Betemit single, where Butler tried to score from second. Posada appeared to miss tagging Butler at the plate by a wide margin, but home plate umpire Eric Cooper called Butler out to end the inning and keep the game tied.

DeJesus sprained his thumb and will miss the remainder of the series. X-rays were negative…Jeter’s other inside-the-park homer came against the Royals on August 2, 1996 — his rookie season. He is the oldest Yankee (36 years, 26 days) to accomplish the feat since Earle Combs (36 years, 45 days) did it on June 29, 1935…Rodriguez’s 499th career home run also came against Kansas City…Teixeira, who had three hits, an RBI and scored twice, reached base for the 38th straight game…The Yankees are 25-24 when allowing the first run of the game…New York added a blank armband to its uniform for the late Ralph Houk…The Yankees honored late owner George Steinbrenner by placing a large mural in the outfield.