Alex Rodriguez turned Kei Igawa's forgettable debut into a day he'll long remember.
Bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, two outs and the Yankees trailing by a run. Just the type of pressure situation Rodriguez failed at during the last two Octobers. Nearly the same circumstances as two nights earlier, when he popped out and tossed his bat to the ground in disgust.
"There's no way out," manager Joe Torre said. "There it is: You either produce, or you're going to read about yourself again."
This time was different. This time, A-Rod wound up getting shoved back onto the field by Derek Jeter for a curtain call.
Down to his last strike, Rodriguez came through in the most dramatic way, sending a soaring drive into the center-field bleachers, Yankee Stadium's famed black seats. His grand slam off Chris Ray, A-Rod's second home run Saturday, gave the Yankees a memorable 10-7 victory over the Baltimore Orioles in New York.
"It felt awesome," Rodriguez said in the clubhouse, still smiling, the ball perched on a shelf in his locker. "I was so excited, I felt like a fool running around the bases, like it was Little League."
New York fell behind by five runs early, and Igawa left after five mediocre innings with a 7-3 deficit. Dice-K he wasn't.
"Somehow, I knew it was going to come to down to me. Even with two outs and nobody on," Rodriguez said. "Somehow or another, it always ends up with me somewhere."
TIGERS 6, ROYALS 5: At Kansas City, Mo., Gary Sheffield, Ivan Rodriguez and CurtisGranderson homered to help Detroit beat Kansas City on a cold afternoon. Sheffield, who had just one single in his first three games with the Tigers, homered to left with two outs in the first.
WHITE SOX 3, TWINS 0: At Chicago, Javier Vazquez allowed one hit in 6 2/3 scoreless innings and four relievers completed the frosty three-hitter to help Chicago beat Minnesota. In winning for the first time since last Aug. 10, Vazquez walked four and struck out five on another January-like day at U.S. Cellular Field.
RANGERS 8, RED SOX 4: At Arlington, Texas, Sammy Sosa hit his first home run since 2005 in help the Rangers get the win. Sosa hit the first pitch he saw from reliever J.C. Romero in the sixth inning into the left-center field seats for a two-run homer, the 589th of his career
ANGELS 2, ATHLETICS 1: At Anaheim, Calif., John Lackey earned his second victory with the help of some shoddy Oakland baserunning, and the Angels beat the Athletics for their fifth win in six games. Vladimir Guerrero drove in his major league-leading 10th run for the Angels, who are off to their best start since 1991 when they also won five of their first six. He went 2-for-3 and is hitting .524 (11-for-21) this season.
BLUE JAYS 8, DEVIL RAYS 5: At St. Petersburgh, Fla., Frank Thomas hit career homer No. 488, a majestic 453-foot grand slam off Devil Rays starter Casey Fossum. Vernon Wells, Troy Glaus and Reed Johnson also drove in runs for the Blue Jays.
BRAVES 5, METS 3: At Atlanta, John Smoltz outpitched former teammate TomGlavine to help the Braves hand the Mets their first loss of the season. It was the second time Smoltz had faced Glavine after 15 years as teammates and golf buddies.
DODGERS 4, GIANTS 1: At San Francisco, Jeff Kent hit a go-ahead two-run double in the fifth, Derek Lowe bounced back from a bad outing on opening day and the Los Angeles Dodgers extended their winning streak in San Francisco to seven games.
REDS 7, PIRATES 5: At Cincinnati, Adam Dunn's wind-blown fly ball deflected off Xavier Nady's glove and cleared the wall for a two-run homer, a goofy play that set the tone for the Reds' win. Dunn's third homer off Tony Armas (0-1) helped the Reds improve to 4-1 on a bitterly cold afternoon.
CUBS 6, BREWERS 3: At Milwaukee, Carlos Zambrano allowed three runs in seven innings and hit an RBI single to lead the Cubs to the win. Zambrano (1-1) struck out four of the first six batters he faced and cruised through three perfect innings to start the game before allowing a solo home run to Rickie Weeks to lead off the fourth.
ASTROS 5, CARDINALS 1: At Houston, Roy Oswalt pitched a five-hitter and Carlos Lee and Lance Berkman homered to lift the Astros to their first win of the year. The win helped Houston avoid its worst start since opening 0-9 in 1983.
DIAMONDBACKS 7, NATIONALS 1: At Washington, Brandon Webb struck out eight in seven sharp innings for the Diamondbacks. Webb (1-0), last year's NL Cy Young Award winner, allowed one run and seven hits.
MARLINS 8, PHILLIES 5: At Miami, Dontrelle Willis pitched six innings for his second victory in as many starts, and Josh Willingham drove in four runs for Florida. Willingham had hits in his first three at-bats and batted in the seventh needing a single to become the first player to hit for the cycle in the Marlins' 15-year history.
PADRES 3, ROCKIES 2: At San Diego, Adrian Gonzalez hit an RBI double with one out in the ninth to give the Padres the win. San Diego snapped the Rockies' three-game win streak.