PHOENIX -- Mariano Rivera was on the brink of a rare pratfall, then he did it again.
The magnificent closer mustered another remarkable string of pitches, and the New York Yankees escaped with a dramatic victory before heading to Los Angeles to face their old manager Joe Torre and his Dodgers.Curtis Granderson led off the top of the 10th with a home run and Rivera got out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the bottom of the inning to give the Yankees a 6-5 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday night.
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"I've seen him do it before," New York manager Joe Girardi said of Rivera's effort. "You know he has the ability to strike people out and you know that he can get the job done. He's done it so many times in his career."Alex Rodriguez's sacrifice fly in the ninth inning tied the game at 5. Granderson greeted Carlos Rosa (0-2), the Diamondbacks' fifth reliever, with a towering home run to right field.Rivera (1-1), in his first two-inning appearance of the season, loaded the bases only to get Chris Young to foul out to the catcher, Adam LaRoche to pop up to third and then struck out Mark Reynolds."You hold your composure, made your pitches and a little help from the Lord you get it done," Rivera said. "Nothing's that easy. The game's still by one run. You still have a chance."The Yankees took two out of three from Arizona increased their AL East lead to 2 1/2 games because Boston and Tampa Bay lost to NL West foes."That's quite a range of emotions," a hoarse Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch said after the four-hour, seven minute roller coaster ride. "Just a terrible loss, a terrible feeling of a loss."LaRoche, 2 of 16 in his career against New York starter Javier Vazquez entering the game, had two-run singles in the first and fourth innings. His swinging dribbler in front of the plate brought Young in with the go-ahead run on a fielder's choice in the sixth to match his career best with five RBIs.A standout relief appearance by newcomer Sam Demel and a scoreless eighth by Juan Gutierrez kept Arizona ahead 5-4 entering the ninth.Aaron Heilman, who has been the best of what has been a mostly atrocious lot in the Diamondbacks bullpen, walked Derek Jeter and Nick Swisher to start the inning. They were the last of a season-high 13 walks allowed by Arizona."I think I'd rather give up a home run," Heilman said, "at least make them hit the ball, put it in play, as opposed to giving two free passes, especially late in the game, you just can't have that."The runners advanced on a groundout, then Hinch chose to pitch to Rodriguez rather than walk him intentionally and load the bases for Robinson Cano, who entered the game with a major league-best .363 average.Rodriguez scored Jeter with a fly to right.Hinch said he thought about walking Rodriguez, but only for an instant."Cano's a human highlight reel this year," Hinch said. "... I don't want to put the game in his hands with the bases loaded."Cano had a difficult night.He came to bat with two runners on and one out in the first and third innings. In the first, he struck out and Mark Teixeira was thrown out trying to steal third. In the third, Cano bounced into an inning-ending double play.Then in the fifth, with runners at first and second and one out, Cano hit a line shot to deep left that Gerardo Parra caught with a diving, face-first grab running toward the wall. Parra threw to second baseman Kelly Johnson, who doubled up Rodriguez as he tried to scramble back to first.Dontrelle Willis, in his third start for Arizona since being acquired from Detroit, again struggled with his control, walking seven in 2 1/3 innings, three of them on four pitches.Demel, in his third hitless major league appearance since being acquired from Oakland, came on in the sixth to get Jeter to hit into an inning-ending double play, then struck out Swisher, Teixeira and Rodriguez in order in the seventh.
The Yankees will meet the Dodgers for the second time in a regular-season series. The teams have faced each other in 11 World Series. ... Vazquez, 3-1 with a 2.25 ERA in his previous four starts, went five innings, his shortest outing since May 1. ... With the crowd of 46,325, the series drew the second-, third- and fourth-largest home crowds of the season.