NEW YORK – Alex Rodriguez came to the plate with the bases loaded in the eighth inning Sunday, wanting to do something special for the thousands of people who waited out a lengthy rain delay to see him hit home run No. 600.
Blake Wood had no intention of being a footnote in history.
After getting ahead of A-Rod in the count, the Royals reliever threw a pitch high and tight that deflected of the New York slugger's left hand and put him down in a heap. For a moment, the outcome of the Yankees' 12-6 victory over Kansas City hardly seemed to matter.
"It was a scary moment," said manager Joe Girardi, who came sprinting out of the Yankees' dugout to check on his star third baseman. "He's such a big part of our club."
Rodriguez said after the game that he was fine, and he expects to be in the lineup when he takes the pursuit of his next milestone home run on the road. The Yankees play four games in Cleveland beginning Monday, then three more at Tampa Bay before returning home Aug. 2.
Rodriguez was still a bit shaken by the close call Sunday, though, showing off a bruise that was already forming on his hand while standing in front of his locker.
"I have pretty much full strength, so I should be OK," he said. "I was more fearful of the ball coming toward my face. Obviously, the hand is so sensitive, and it's very easy to break a bone or chip a bone, so I'm just thankful that didn't happen."
Wood said he wasn't trying to hit A-Rod, who cracked homer No. 599 in the series opener.
"It was just a ball that got away. It could have happened to anybody," Wood said. "I've made some bad pitches, there's no doubt about that. The results haven't been good."
Rodriguez wound up driving in three runs for the Yankees, while Curtis Granderson hit a pair of homers before a rain delay of 2 hours, 32 minutes ruined any sense of rhythm in the game.
Robinson Cano drove in a pair of runs with two hits, giving him 1,000 for his career, while Derek Jeter added three hits and an RBI as the Yankees won for the 14th time in 18 games.
Mark Teixeira and Brett Gardner also drove in runs.
"We couldn't keep them off base, and we couldn't keep them from driving in the runs," said Scott Podsednik, the lone bright spot for Kansas City. He hit a pair of two-run homers to push his hitting streak to 12 games, two shy of his career high.
The Royals lost for the 10th time in 13 games, including six of their last seven on the road, and are back to their losing ways in the Bronx. After winning on Saturday, Kansas City lost for the 28th time in 34 games at Yankee Stadium.
"They out-dueled us, essentially," Podsednik said.
Phil Hughes (12-3) didn't return after the rain delay but still earned the win for New York, despite needing 95 pitches to get through 5 1-3 innings in another shaky start.
The Yankees gave him a big cushion early against Sean O'Sullivan (1-1), who beat them on Tuesday night as a member of the Los Angeles Angels.
O'Sullivan was traded to the Royals on Thursday, allowing him to become the first big league pitcher since the late Cory Lidle in 2004 to make starts against the same opponent within six days of each other while throwing for different clubs, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
O'Sullivan only allowed two hits over six innings Tuesday night, and set down the first six batters he faced in order on Sunday. Granderson finally figured him out, though, leading off the third by driving a 3-1 pitch into the bullpen in right field.
The Yankees wound up scoring four times in the third inning, and after Rick Ankiel got one back with a homer in the fourth, Granderson went deep again in the bottom half.
"I left that first one over the plate too much, and he got a pretty good swing on it," O'Sullivan said. "The second one I thought was a pretty good pitch, but he hit it out anyway."
NOTES: The Yankees won their major league-leading 23rd series of the season. ... Teixeira extended his streak of reaching base to a career high 41 games. It's the longest run for the Yankees since A-Rod did it in 53 consecutive in 2004. ... It was umbrella giveaway day at Yankee Stadium for the first 18,000 fans. Many popped them open during the rain delay.