MINNEAPOLIS - If the line was rehearsed, Alex Rodriguez nonetheless delivered it skillfully and convincingly, as if it had just popped into his head.
"Some people say that life starts at 40," he said with a broad smile late Saturday night. "I'll sign up for that right now."
With that milestone birthday on the horizon Monday, he was all smiles, and why not?
Powered by A-Rod's three home runs, including a tying blast in the ninth, and John Ryan Murphy's three-run shot later in the inning, the Yankees rallied from an early five-run deficit to earn an 8-5 win over the Twins in front of a sellout crowd of 40,660 at Target Field.
Said Joe Girardi, "It's maybe our best win of the year."
It was the fifth time in Rodriguez's career that he hit three homers in a game and the first since Aug. 14, 2010, in Kansas City. This one might have been the most impressive, and perhaps satisfying. All three homers -- which came in a span of five pitches -- were mammoth shots: a drive in the fourth that landed in the seldom-reached third deck in left-center and went an estimated 480 feet, a 428-footer into the Yankees' bullpen in the seventh and a 424-foot blast to dead center in the ninth off Glen Perkins, who entered the game with a league-best 29 saves.
"I don't know what it [the lengthy distances] tells me, but it's fun," said Rodriguez, who has 23 homers this year and 677 in his career. "There were days when I was in my 20s I couldn't do that. It feels good to do it right before my 40th birthday."
CC Sabathia, who allowed a two-run homer by Aaron Hicks in the first and a three-run shot by Torii Hunter in the third to put the Yankees in a 5-0 hole, saw A-Rod studying video of Perkins in the clubhouse before he led off the ninth. Rodriguez swung at the first pitch, a 94-mph fastball, and delivered the no-doubter to tie it.
"I kind of felt," Sabathia said, "like I knew that was coming."
The Yankees had one hit through six innings and nine in the final three. Rodriguez got their first hit off Tommy Milone in the fourth to make it 5-1. His two-run shot off Milone in the seventh drew the Yankees within 5-3. "I felt good, I felt centered," said A-Rod, who began the game in a 5-for-24 skid. "I had a really good session with Pent [hitting coach Jeff Pentland] earlier today and I thought we figured out some good things."
Sabathia had felt that way about his previous two starts, outings in which he allowed a combined three runs in 111/3 innings. But he took a step backward, allowing five runs and six hits in 52/3 innings. "Five runs isn't good enough,'' he said, "but the guys came through."
Adam Warren took over for Sabathia with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth. Warren, erratic since being put in the bullpen in late June, was terrific, striking out Hicks and holding the Twins scoreless in the seventh and eighth to earn unsung-hero status on the night.
"Just throw quality strikes," he said of the bases-loaded jam. "It's a tough situation. You just have to focus on executing pitching. Sometimes you try and do too much. Just try to simplify it."
With runners at the corners and one out against Perkins, Murphy wasn't trying to do anything beyond hitting a go-ahead sacrifice fly. He did better than that, sending a drive to right-center for his first homer of the season and an 8-5 lead.
"There's no greater feeling than looking in the dugout and seeing your teammates excited about something you just did," he said. "We got beat pretty badly yesterday [10-1] and got down early today. I think this says a lot about our team."