Milestone Man: Rivera earns 500th save for Yankees

Shortstop Derek Jeter, behind, pats closer Mariano Rivera on the head with his glove as third baseman Alex Rodriguez (13) approaches to congratulate Rivera after Rivera earned his 500th save in the Yankees 4-2 victory over the Mets in their interleague baseball game at Citi Field in New York, Sunday, June 28, 2009. <br><I>AP Photo

NEW YORK - Mariano Rivera's 500th save included a surprising bonus: his first RBI.

On a New York night that belonged to baseball's most unflappable closer, Rivera became the second reliever to reach the milestone when the Yankees held off the punchless Mets 4-2 Sunday for a Subway Series sweep.

He joined Milwaukee's Trevor Hoffman, who has 571 saves, as the only major leaguers with 500. But what Rivera enjoyed best was his bases-loaded walk that provided a ninth-inning insurance run.

"I had one thing in mind - just try to do something," he said, before expounding on No. 500. "All of my teammates congratulated me, obviously. I think they were more happy than I was."

Chien-Ming Wang (1-6) won for the first time since June 15 last year and Rivera got four outs to secure the Yankees' fifth straight victory, all on the road.

In a fun twist, the 39-year-old Rivera even contributed on offense. The Mets walked Derek Jeter intentionally to get to Rivera with two outs, but he's proved to be no pushover at the plate. He fouled off a 2-2 pitch from Francisco Rodriguez before working out a walk for his first career RBI.

It was the third regular-season plate appearance for Rivera - and second in five days. With his teammates yucking it up in the dugout, he flied out against Atlanta on Wednesday, then finished off save No. 498.

"He looks good up there," Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte said. "I think in Atlanta they gave him a take sign and he swung anyway."

Mark Teixeira hit a two-run double off Livan Hernandez (5-3) in a three-run first, when the Yankees had two of their four hits. Jorge Posada added a sacrifice fly.

The injury-depleted Mets (37-37) totaled three runs and nine hits in the three-game series. The Yankees took five of six from their crosstown rivals this season, outscoring them 44-17, and handed the Mets their first sweep in 13 series at their spacious new home, Citi Field.

Now, the Mets play 17 of their next 23 on the road.

"We have to find a way to generate some offense," manager Jerry Manuel said. "I have to find it with what I have here."

Rivera entered with two on in the eighth and went to a full count on Omir Santos before throwing a called third strike. The right-hander pitched a one-hit ninth for his 18th save in 19 chances this season.

"He's the definition of consistency," Jeter said.

After the final out, the Yankees poured out of the dugout to hug Rivera near first base. Teixeira handed him the game ball, which he kept. He also signed a few balls for his teammates.

"Don't get me wrong, it's definitely special," said Rivera, who owns the postseason record with 34 saves. "My team fought hard to give me the opportunity to be there and I just tried to do my job. Really, all those 500 saves belong to my teammates."

Perhaps what is most remarkable: Rivera has enjoyed all this success while relying on one pitch for the most part - that searing cut fastball.

"I told him he's the best ever. The best I've seen. Nobody can even compare," Posada said.

The Yankees (43-32) matched a season high at 11 games over .500. Aided by third baseman Alex Rodriguez's fine defense all weekend, they produced their second series sweep of the Mets in Queens since interleague play began in 1997. The other came when the Yankees won all six meetings in 2003.

Hernandez fell to 0-4 in seven career starts against the Yankees.

Attendance was 41,315, the third record crowd in a row at Citi Field and the fifth sellout there overall.

Braves 2, Red Sox 1

At Atlanta, rookie Tommy Hanson threw six scoreless innings despite a bout with the flu, and homers by Chipper Jones and Garret Anderson prevented a Boston sweep. Hanson (4-0) limited Boston to two hits and extended his shutout streak to 20 innings. He beat Brad Penny (6-3).

Tigers 4, Astros 3

At Houston, Brandon Inge hit a two-run homer off Jose Valverde (0-2) with two outs in the ninth as the Tigers averted a sweep.

Royals 3, Pirates 2

At Pittsburgh, Zack Greinke (10-3) didn't allow a run until his final pitch before a seventh-inning rain delay, and Kansas City kept the Pirates from sweeping an interleague series for the first time since 2001.

David DeJesus homered off Charlie Morton (0-1) and drove in two runs to support Greinke, who lowered his major league-leading ERA to 1.95.

Rays 5, Marlins 2

At St. Petersburg, Fla., David Price (2-2) allowed one run over 6 1-3 innings and Tampa Bay completed a three-game sweep. B.J. Upton homered for the Rays, who have won five straight. Tropicana Field is the only park in the majors where at least one homer has been hit in every game (39) this season.

Reds 8, Indians 1

At Cleveland, Brandon Phillips celebrated his 28th birthday by breaking out of a 1-for-16 slump with three hits, three runs and three RBIs, leading the Reds over his former team. Micah Owings (5-8) gave up one run in six innings for his second win in eight starts since May 21.

Phillies 5, Blue Jays 4

At Toronto, Chase Utley hit a two-run triple and Jamie Moyer (6-6) won consecutive starts for the first time since April 21 and 26.

Nationals 5, Orioles 3

At Baltimore, John Lannan (5-5) took a four-hitter into the eighth, Adam Dunn hit a colossal home run and Washington avoided a three-game sweep. Willie Harris also homered for the Nationals.

White Sox 6, Cubs 0

At Chicago, John Danks (6-6) pitched seven sharp innings, Chris Getz stole home against Carlos Zambrano (4-3) and the White Sox took two of three before sellout crowds at U.S. Cellular Field. Alexei Ramirez homered.

Twins 6, Cardinals 2

At St. Louis, Francisco Liriano (4-8) pitched seven strong innings and Justin Morneau hit a three-run homer. Joe Mauer singled in his first two at-bats for Minnesota to hike his average to .400 before finishing the day at .394.

Mark DeRosa, acquired Saturday night from Cleveland, batted cleanup and had three groundouts and a walk for the Cardinals.

Mariners 4, Dodgers 2

At Los Angeles, Jose Lopez had three hits, including a two-run double, and Adrian Beltre singled home a run for Seattle in his last game before undergoing shoulder surgery. Beltre is expected to miss six to eight weeks following surgery Tuesday in Los Angeles to have bone spurs removed from his non-throwing shoulder.

Rockies 3, Athletics 1

At Oakland, Calif., Aaron Cook (8-3) took a shutout into the ninth and won his fifth consecutive start as Colorado completed its fourth sweep in June. The A's have lost five straight, matching a season high.

Angels 12, Diamondbacks 8

At Phoenix, Gary Matthews Jr. stole home and hit a three-run double for Los Angeles, which held off an Arizona rally and finished a sweep. Juan Rivera, Jeff Mathis and Maicer Izturis homered for the Angels.

Padres 2, Rangers 0

At Arlington, Texas, Chad Gaudin (4-6) allowed one hit over eight innings and Scott Hairston snapped an 0-for-17 slide with a homer as San Diego won its first series in a month. Heath Bell got his NL-best 21st save.

National League

Giants 7, Brewers 0

At Milwaukee, Ryan Sadowski (1-0) allowed four hits over six innings in his major league debut and San Francisco avoided a three-game sweep. Matt Downs hit his first career home run and Nate Schierholtz had a homer among his four hits for the Giants, who snapped a six-game skid in Milwaukee.


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