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A-Rod closes in on 600 as Yanks top A's

The Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, right, is congratulated by

The Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, right, is congratulated by Derek Jeter, center, and Colin Curtis (27) after Rodriguez hit a grand slam in the third inning against Oakland. (July 6, 2010) Photo Credit: AP

OAKLAND, Calif. - Alex Rodriguez hit career home runs Nos. 596 and 597, including his third grand slam of this season, and CC Sabathia won his 11th game of the season, recording a season-best 10 strikeouts.

Still, everything that happened in Tuesday night's 6-1 victory over the Athletics was relegated to sidebar status because of the news that came before the first pitch.

Mariano Rivera, in an impromptu news conference after the Yankees took batting practice, said he would not pitch in next week's All-Star Game because of minor injuries to his right knee and left side.

"I'd prefer to take those days off and make sure I'm ready for the second half," the 40-year-old closer said.

That news undoubtedly caused quite a few hearts in the Yankees universe to flutter, but manager Joe Girardi somewhat downplayed the injuries after the game, saying that although he planned to stay away from him Tuesday night, Rivera would be available to him until the break.

"He's a little physically beat up but a lot of our guys are," Girardi said. "I was trying to stay away from him tonight because we used him two days in a row , but he told me if we needed him, he was OK."

Girardi said later: "I think the four days off will help him a lot."

Rivera, who needed just 10 pitches to record Monday's save, said the issue with his right side, his oblique, is the same one that kept him out about a week in early May.

"I've been pitching and pitching and pitching," said Rivera, who has 19 saves and a 1.08 ERA in a team-high 33 appearances. "It's hard to rest it and let it heal by itself."

Rivera also disclosed that he had similar pain, only it was in his right oblique, during last year's World Series but, "none of you guys knew about it."

The right knee, which Rivera said started bothering him in Los Angeles a little more than a week ago, sounded more troublesome. He said he has fluid and inflammation around the patella tendon, though the knee has not been drained and he said a stint on the disabled list hasn't been discussed.

"A blow to Mo would be really concerning to us, obviously," Girardi said. "So it's something we monitor, I talk to the trainers every day and like I said, we were trying to stay away from him today, but if I needed him, he said he was available. But it is something you will monitor."

The Yankees have used Rivera twice this season to record saves of more than three outs but he said those days were over for the time being.

"There will be times when you have to, but right now, I don't think it's wise to do it," Rivera said.

There was no cause to consider using Rivera at any point Tuesday night as Rodriguez's recent power surge continued with two monstrous home runs, which gave Sabathia (11-3, 3.19) plenty of cushion.

Rodriguez's grand slam, the 21st of his career to tie him with Manny Ramirez for second-most all-time, off Trevor Cahill in the third inning, highlighted a five-run inning that put the Yankees (52-31) ahead to stay at 5-1.

A-Rod launched a full-count pitch from Cahill, who came in 8-2 with a 2.74 ERA, well beyond the 400-foot sign in center in the sixth for his 14th homer of the season and a 6-1 lead. It gave Rodriguez a team-best 67 RBIs.

"I like RBI because that helps the team win, that's for sure," A-Rod said. "Today, they were big for CC. CC and Georgie both threw a terrific game, they had a great rhythm and CC didn't need much."

Sabathia allowed a run in the first inning on Kevin Kouzmanoff's two-out RBI double but frustrated the A's (41-44) after that. He allowed seven hits and walked three in 72/3 innings, replaced by David Robertson in the eighth after striking out Kurt Suzuki with his 118th pitch, a season high.

Robertson pitched a 1-2-3 ninth with a strikeout.

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