Gregorius, A-Rod drive Yanks past Rangers

Gregorius, A-Rod drive Yanks past Rangers

ARLINGTON -- Alex Rodriguez celebrated his 40th birthday with a home run and Didi Gregorius drove in a career-high four runs as the Yankees defeated the Rangers, 6-2, on Monday at Globe Life Park.

Rodriguez's sixth-inning solo shot off Matt Harrison marked the sixth home run that the Yankees slugger has hit on his birthday. He is just the fourth player in Major League history to homer as a teenager and in his forties, joining Ty Cobb, Rusty Staub and Gary Sheffield.

"I've had a lot of texts and emails that I have joined an exclusive club," Rodriguez said. "I'm definitely grateful and happy to be playing and helping the team win."

Gregorius clubbed a two-run shot, his fifth home run, in the third inning and added a two-run single in the seventh off Sam Freeman as part of a three-hit performance.

"I just think he's maturing as a player," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He got off to a slow start, and we've seen an upward kick the whole season. This has been his best month."

Ivan Nova started for New York and completed five innings of two-run ball to earn the victory, holding Texas to a pair of run-scoring hits from Elvis Andrus and Leonys Martin in the second inning. The righty exited after 75 pitches due to arm fatigue. New York improved to a season-high 14 games over .500 at 56-42 as Harrison took the loss, charged with six runs and six hits over six-plus innings.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Wall ball: Martin -- who started in center field because Delino DeShields was getting an off-day -- might have saved the Rangers a run in the second inning. Mark Teixeira hit a towering fly ball to left-center field. Martin roamed over and used the wall to aid his leap. He snagged Teixeira's ball near the top of the wall to turn a possible home run into an out.
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"As soon as he hit it, I knew I was going to be up against the wall," Martin said. "I tried to find the wall first. I just used the wall and thanks to God it was a good jump."

Must C: Martin robs Teixeira

'This Is 40': A-Rod joined a select group in the sixth inning, clearing the right-field wall to give the Yankees a 4-2 lead and becoming just the fourth player in history to have homered in his teens and his forties. Six of Rodriguez's 678 career home runs have come on his birthday, which is also a Major League record -- four of them were hit in Arlington. More >

"When you play for a long time, these things just add up," said Rodriguez, who has four homers on this road trip. "But it is nice. It is quite a great gift to have the whole family here. I'm going to celebrate a little with my teammates tonight, my daughters are here. It's a great win, and the home run is icing on top."

A-Rod homers on 40th birthday

No one home: The Rangers had a chance to grab the lead when they loaded the bases in the fourth inning, but Nova pulled an escape act to keep Texas off the board. With the bases loaded and one out, Martin hit a ground ball to first for a fielder's choice as the Yankees cut down the potential tying run at the plate. Robinson Chirinos then grounded to shortstop.

Gregorius' glorious night: Gregorius drove in a career-high four runs for New York with some big swings against left-handed pitching, which has been a personal project of his. "Sir Didi" slugged his fifth homer to put the Yanks on the board in the third inning, a two-run shot to right off Harrison -- his first big league homer off a lefty -- and he greeted Freeman with a two-run single to center in the seventh. Gregorius also made a nifty defensive play to steal a fifth-inning hit from Shin-Soo Choo.

"I started the season slow, everybody knows that, and I'm making improvements, making adjustments and trying to get better," Gregorius said. "Keep picking all of these guys' brains. We've got a lot of veteran guys here, everybody's helping each other out and making us be a better team. That's one thing, everybody's helping each other and we're moving forward from there. I'm feeling really good at the plate now."

Gregorius' two-run single

QUOTABLE
"It's very impressive, but we're not surprised by much that he does anymore. That's a really impressive home run; a line drive the other way. He's been tremendous. He has incredible ability and I'm glad he's on our side." -- Yankees third baseman Chase Headley, on A-Rod

WHAT'S NEXT
Yankees: Left-hander Chris Capuano (0-4, 5.64 ERA) will make his fourth start of the season on Tuesday, slotting into the rotation so the Yankees can give extra rest to Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia. Capuano is 0-3 with a 6.39 ERA as a starter this year, having last done it on May 29 at Oakland. The game is scheduled to start at 8:05 p.m. ET.

Rangers: Left-hander Martin Perez (0-1, 4.91 ERA) will make his first start in Arlington since May 14, 2014, when the Rangers host the Yankees on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. CT. It will be his third start since returning from Tommy John surgery.

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Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. Cody Stavenhagen is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.