(The Sports Xchange) - Shortstop Didi Gregorius went a surprising 4-for-5 with a homer and a career-high six RBIs as the New York Yankees broke out for a 15-4 interleague rout of the Atlanta Braves to remain 1 1/2 games behind Toronto in the AL East.
“I felt really good,” said Gregorius, whose only out was a long drive to center field. “We need this. The offense had been struggling the last couple games. I was just trying to help the team win.”
The Yankees (70-57) backed right-hander Masahiro Tanaka with five runs in the first inning and four more in the second after scoring just four times in their previous three games.
“It was big (to get that start) and it probably got our guys relaxed a little bit,” manager Joe Girardi said. “The amazing thing was we did it with no one out and two outs (both times).”
Catcher Brian McCann, playing his first game at Turner Field since leaving the Braves for the Yankees before last season, hit a three-run homer in the eighth and left fielder Chris Young connected in the ninth as outfielder Jonny Gomes mopped up on the mound.
“It’s not a good feeling,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “I know that Jonny was having a good time out there, but when you sit in the dugout you always think that somebody in that position will get hurt.”
It was the 23rd homer of the season for McCann, who also walked three times and had a sacrifice fly before a crowd of 35,546 dominated by Yankees fans.
The three-run shot by Gregorius in the first inning was his seventh homer of the season and second in two games. The Yankees had gone 144 at-bats without a home run until he connected in the seventh inning against Houston on Wednesday.
“Big evening, offensively and defensively,” Girardi said. “He had a great night. He’s swinging the bat good. It’s got to feel good (to get six RBIs).”
Tanaka (10-6) retired 13 straight batters between a third-inning homer by Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman and a double by shortstop Andrelton Simmons with two outs in the seventh.
“He was a little uphill in the first inning, then made an adjustment and got things going,” Girardi said. “I thought he threw the ball well, especially after the first inning.”
The loss was the 10th in the last 11 games for Atlanta (54-74). The Braves are 12-32 since being 42-42 on July 7.
Braves rookie right-hander Williams Perez (4-5) lasted just 1 2/3 innings while being charged with eight runs on five hits and three walks. His ERA jumped from 4.76 to 5.56.
Compiled by John O'Brien