KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -It took Alex Rodriguez 47 pressure-laden at_bats to go from career home run No. 599 to No. 600.
Going from 601 to 604 took five pitches.
``Sometimes milestones are a pain,' New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Saturday night after watching A-Rod hit three homers in an 8-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals.
Rodriguez drove in five runs, taking over the major league RBIs lead with 97. He picked on three different pitchers for his deep drives in the hot, humid Midwestern air.
After striking out on three pitches from Sean O'Sullivan in his previous at-bat, Rodriguez led off the sixth inning with a 412-foot shot against the Royals starter.
Rodriguez added a two-run drive off Kanekoa Texeira in the seventh that carried 419 feet and put the Yankees on top 6-3.
A-Rod connected in the ninth against Greg Holland for the most impressive drive, a 439-foot shot that landed in the water fountains in left field.
``It was a lot of fun,' Rodriguez said. ``Overall, I've been feeling pretty good the last few days. I've had some pretty good sessions with Kevin Long, our hitting coach.'
Rodriguez has 21 home runs this season and 604 lifetime. It was the 56th multihomer game of his 16-year career.
In late July and early August, the baseball world waited game after game as Rodriguez tried to become the seventh man and youngest player ever to crack the 600-homer milestone. Finally, on Aug. 4, he did it.
``The idea of being stuck at 599 was really a microcosm of what's happened all year,' he said. ``I've been able to drive in some runs, hit some doubles here and there, but overall not for power. The key is consistency in hitting the ball hard.'
He sure did that.
``He was dead on today, that's for sure,' said Royals manager Ned Yost. ``I don't know which was more amazing - the ball to center or the ball to left there in the fountain. He got a hold of both them.'
Phil Hughes (14-5) went six innings for the victory.
Several Yankees hit fly balls near the warning track against O'Sullivan (1-4) before they finally broke through in the sixth.
Rodriguez homered, then Robinson Cano flied out deep. Jorge Posada and Curtis Granderson followed with consecutive home runs, the fourth time the Yankees have had back-to-back homers this year.
Rodriguez said at Long's urging, he tweaked his swing to get his hips to come through more fully, which seems to provide a power boost.
The home run off Texeira appeared to be on a pitch almost in the dirt.
``It's the third or fourth time I've faced Texeira,' Rodriguez said. ``He's got really good stuff. He's got a heavy sinker, about 94 to 96. He was trying to get me to hit a ground ball to third for a double play and I was trying to get some elevation.'
``It was a sinker down and in,' said Texeira. ``I've been feeding him sinkers down and in since I first faced him. He's sitting on it, and he hit it.'
O'Sullivan insists his was a better delivery.
``I went back and looked at the tape, and it was a good pitch,' he said. ``Same thing with Posada's - curveball, down and in. That's a good team over there.'
After Wilson Betemit homered leading off the Royals sixth, Kila Ka'aihue and Alex Gordon singled and Yuniesky Betancourt lifted a lazy fly into left field which Brett Gardner appeared to lose in the lights. The ball dropped at his feet for a single, loading the bases with none out.
But the only run the Royals got was on Chris Getz's weak grounder to first, pulling Kansas City to 4-3.
O'Sullivan was facing the Yankees for the third time in 3 1/2 weeks, including once with the Angels. He went 5 1-3 innings and allowed four runs on eight hits, with two walks, five strikeouts and three home runs.
Every Yankee starter had at least one hit.
Betemit was 3 for 4 with a homer and two singles, including an RBI single in the first.
The milestone 600th may have had Rodriguez pressing, Girardi said.
``You want to get through it so quickly, sometimes you forget what you need to do. I'm not sure he did that, but since he's gotten by 600, they've come a little more rapidly.'
NOTES: Derek Jeter has gone 51 straight games at shortstop without an error. He's also hit safely in 13 of his last 16. ... Yankees catcher prospect J.R. Murphy had nine RBIs for Single-A Charleston in a game against Hickory on Friday night. ... In pregame ceremony, Royals honored the team that beat the Yankees for the 1980 pennant.
The Associated Press News Service
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