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Homers hand Cahill first loss since May

Homers hand Cahill first loss since May

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OAKLAND -- Alex Rodriguez seemingly knows just how to rile up a crowd, especially those found in Oakland.

And despite recent happenings -- one involving a certain someone's turf -- he doesn't even need to be on the mound to do it.

Just let him circle one -- again and again.

That's essentially what A-Rod did Tuesday night, hitting a pair of homers -- one of them a grand slam -- en route to spoiling what was expected to be quite the All-Star showdown.

Rodriguez, though an All-Star himself, didn't realize he wasn't supposed to play a role in said showdown. Rather, all eyes were to be on newly appointed All-Stars CC Sabathia and Trevor Cahill, the latter of whom saw the Yankees' third baseman drive in five runs in the A's 6-1 loss.

Cahill's string of seven consecutive wins -- which had him boasting a 2.12 ERA and .194 opponents' batting average -- subsequently ended. A-Rod's history in Oakland, meanwhile, only grew.

The slugger jolted Cahill for two long balls in back-to-back at-bats, increasing his career homer total at the Coliseum to 21 -- a number that represents the most in history by a visiting player. For Cahill, it automatically attached two homers to the right-hander's name just six days into July. The A's righty gave up the same number of homers in all of June.

However, that was before Yankees manager Joe Girardi personally selected Cahill to join him on the American League staff at the Midsummer Classic, as the skipper did just two days prior.

"I think I tried to tell myself before the game, 'They're the defending champs and Girardi is over there,'" Cahill said. "I think I was a little too amped up. I wanted to prove I belonged on the team, and the first inning, I was throwing a bit harder than normal. I think it just fatigued me toward the end of the game.

After posting two perfect innings -- albeit with a high pitch count -- and gaining a one-run lead thanks to an RBI double from Kevin Kouzmanoff in the first, Cahill loaded the bases in the third with one out for Derek Jeter, who grounded into a fielder's choice while picking up an RBI, bringing Mark Teixeira to the plate with runners on first and third. The Yankees' first baseman quickly reach base once Cahill hit him with a pitch, and Rodriguez entered into defensive mode by launching his 21st career grand slam to left-center field, giving the Yankees a 5-1 lead.

"I got ahead of Teixeira and then just tried to come in on him since I was ahead in the count, thinking maybe he'd chase it," Cahill said. "I didn't want the ball to leak back over the plate. It went too far in and hit him.

"With A-Rod, I threw a four-seamer -- the only one I threw all day. My biggest thing, I didn't want to walk in a run right there. I just tried to throw strikes. I wanted to go after him. I wanted to prove I could get him out, but he beat me there."

Rodriguez went deep again off Cahill in the sixth inning, sending a 3-2 changeup flying over the center-field wall for his 14th homer of the year and the 597th of his career, a solo shot that increased New York's advantage to 6-1.

"They were similar," Rodriguez said of Cahill's pitches on his home runs. "One was a fastball, one was a changeup. Today, they were big for CC."

That proved to be enough for Cahill, who in 2009 surrendered an Oakland rookie-record 27 long balls but entered Tuesday's affair having offered up just eight this season. The A's right-hander left after six innings and 100 pitches, his line including four hits, six earned runs, one walk and four strikeouts.

Cahill's counterpart, meanwhile, compiled more than twice as many strikeouts. Sabathia tallied 10 in his 7 2/3-inning effort, winning his seventh straight start while leading the Yankees to their Major League-best 52nd win.

"CC's a tough pitcher," said Coco Crisp, who went 1-for-2 with two walks against the lefty. "He's one of the best in the game, so against him, you've got to find those big hits, those key hits. When you get a guy on, you have to move him over and get him in -- you can't let those opportunities pass you by.

"We were able to do that in the first and couldn't do it after that. We didn't have back-to-back hits too many times. We had some runners on, but you got to capitalize when you have guys on."

The A's gathered seven hits in the game, but they were 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left six on base, including three in the fifth, when Daric Barton was called out on strikes -- and, subsequently, ejected upon pounding his bat to the ground -- to end the inning.

"I'm just tired of getting struck out on pitches that aren't strikes," Barton said.

"I thought it was a good pitch," Sabathia said. "Obviously, he disagreed, but I thought it was a pretty good pitch. He's really patient and makes you throw the ball over the plate."

And while A's manager Bob Geren admitted that Sabathia likely "threw one of his better games," Geren insisted that his own pitcher really wasn't all that bad -- that 95 of the 100 pitches Cahill tossed were "pretty good."

Pretty good, though, just isn't good enough against the Yankees. Just ask Cahill.

"That team definitely sets the bar," Cahill said. "I wish I could've shown more, but it just didn't work out that way."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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