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A-Rod Within Three Homers of 600

Oakland, CA (Sports Network) – Alex Rodriguez hit his 21st career grand slam and CC Sabathia pitched 7 2/3 strong innings, as the New York Yankees defeated the Oakland Athletics, 6-1, in the middle installment of a three-game series.

Rodriguez, who also hit a solo homer, now has 597 career home runs and is tied with Manny Ramirez for second place on the all-time list for most grand slams. Only former Yankee Lou Gehrig, with 23, has more.

“I like RBIs, because that helps the team win,” Rodriguez said. “That’s for sure. Today they were big for CC. CC and [catcher Jorge Posada] both threw a terrific game. They had a great rhythm. And CC didn’t need much.”

Sabathia (11-3) allowed one run on seven hits with 10 strikeouts and improved to 7-0 in his last seven starts for the Yankees, who have won four straight and five of their last six games overall.

Kevin Kouzmanoff drove in the lone run for the A’s, who have lost 16 of their last 20 contests against the Yankees.

Oakland starter Trevor Cahill (8-3) was 7-0 over his last nine starts, but suffered the loss after he surrendered six runs on four hits over six innings.

“It’s fun going against a team, the defending world champs, they kind of set the bar,” Cahill said. “And I definitely wish I could have showed more. But things just didn’t work out today.”

Kouzmanoff’s RBI double in the bottom of the first opened the scoring, but the Yankees took control for good in the top of the third.

In the decisive third stanza, Curtis Granderson reached first base on a fielder’s choice and moved to second when Colin Curtis walked. Brett Gardner then singled to load the bases for Derek Jeter, who hit a hard grounder toward the right side of the infield. Gardner was out at second on the play, but the hustle of Jeter — who beat the throw on the attempted double-play — allowed Granderson’s run to count and extended the inning.

With runners on the corners, Mark Teixeira was plunked by Cahill in the back with a fastball and the bags were full again. That set the stage for Rodriguez, who unloaded a bomb over the wall in left-center field for a 5-1 New York advantage.

Rodriguez capped his big night with his second homer of the game and 14th of the season in the sixth inning, a solo blast to center.

Reliever David Robertson got the final four outs for New York.

After Wednesday’s series finale, New York will remain on the west coast and visit the Seattle Mariners for a four-game series leading into the upcoming All-Star break…Sabathia threw 118 pitches (74 strikes) and has not lost since May 23…Yankees closer Mariano Rivera has chosen not to participate in the All-Star Game due to several minor injuries and will instead rest.