BOSTON - As the boos, by far the loudest he's heard all season, intensified, Alex Rodriguez, taking his warmup cuts in the on-deck circle, stared ahead.
The Fenway Park fans kept the boo-meter level at a constant through Ball 1, Ball 2 and Ball 3, and then . . .
An unmistakable "crack" cut through it all -- the sound of the 660th homer of A-Rod's career flying over the Green Monster in left. The laser shot snapped a 2-2 tie, lifted the Yankees to a 3-2 victory in front of 35,444 -- and tied him with Willie Mays for fourth place in major-league history.
His approach during the at-bat? "Not home run," he said. "I've pretty much stunk my whole career as a pinch hitter."
Of the booing, A-Rod, who homered on a 95-mph fastball from Junichi Tazawa, smiled and said: "I have to tell you, I don't usually hear the difference, but that boo was pretty intense. It was pretty passionate. Again, I have the utmost respect for Red Sox ownership, the fans, the players, but it was nice to do it and get a big win."
The first pinch-hit homer of Rodriguez's career -- he had been 1-for-16 as a pinch hitter -- brought cheering Yankees players and coaches to the top step of the dugout, leaving no doubt where they stood regarding the homer that tied him with Mays.
During the offseason, Yankees hierarchy had made it clear to Rodriguez where they stood, telling him they did not plan to pay him the $6-million bonus that would come with No. 660. Their perspective was that his past PED use made the milestone unmarketable. That battle, should it be fought, is likely to end up in front of an arbitrator.
Shortly after the home run, the Yankees posted on their official Twitter account: "With his homer in the 8th inning, @AROD ties Willie Mays with No. 660."
A-Rod didn't bite on the bonus issue before the game and didn't afterward, either. "I'm so in the moment right now," he said. "Those things will take care of themselves."
If Mays is bitter, he isn't showing it. "Congratulations to Alex Rodriguez on his 660th home run," Mays told Yahoo Sports Friday night. "Milestones in baseball are meant to be broken."
Rodriguez became emotional during a radio interview after the game, saying he thought of his two daughters and whether they had been awake for the moment. He also thought about his major-league debut, which occurred in this ballpark on July 8, 1994, when he was 18. His first big-league hit came a day later.
"I'm glad it  happened in such a special place," said Rodriguez, doused in a celebratory beer shower by CC Sabathia in the clubhouse afterward.
Sabathia, who allowed two runs and seven hits in six innings in a no-decision, said the overwhelming feeling in the clubhouse for A-Rod was "excited."
"Just for him to get it over with," he said. "It's a great number and it put us up, so it was doubly exciting."
Dellin Betances pitched a scoreless eighth and Andrew Miller made it 9-for-9 in saves with a perfect ninth.
"[Bench coach] Rob Thomson came to me in the fifth inning and was showing me the slots where I might pinch hit," A-Rod said. "He said, 'I need one good swing from you, big guy, so get ready.' So I went down to the cage and got myself ready, and there it was."