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Alex Rodriguez: It's all about the team now

Alex Rodriguez strikes out in the fourth inning

Alex Rodriguez strikes out in the fourth inning against the Baltimore Orioles during ALDS Game 3 at Yankee Stadium. (Oct. 10, 2012) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Alex Rodriguez said he didn't question Joe Girardi's decision to pinch hit Raul Ibañez for him in the ninth inning of Game 3 of the ALDS Wednesday night.

How could he after Ibanez hit a tying home run and then the game-winner in the 12th inning as the Yankees shocked the Orioles, 3-2, to take a 2-1 series lead?

"I never question my manager," he said. "That's where my head is right now."

Rodriguez and his 647 career home runs were on the top step of the Yankees' dugout when Ibanez connected against Orioles closer Jim Johnson to tie the score. A-Rod looked as happy as any Yankees fan when he celebrated with Ibañez and his teammates.

"It was just one of the best performances I've ever seen," Rodriguez said. "It couldn't have happened to a better guy."

A-Rod went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and is 1-for-12 with seven Ks in the series. He said he "100 percent" expects to be in the lineup Thursday night when the Yankees try to advance to the ALCS.

"It was an awesome, awesome win," he said. "And Thursday's another day and I'm coming right back at 'em. And I'm going to be swinging out of my --."

He didn't swing at all in the ninth. Girardi made the gutsy move to bat for a player who said he hadn't been pinch hit for when it matters since "maybe high school."

"Joe and I had a discussion," Rodriguez said. "We've preached all year: It's about 25 guys. It's about whatever it takes to win. I've got to be honest, I don't know how I would have reacted to that 10 years ago, but I've matured over the last few years."

Asked if it could have caused a rift with Girardi, Rodriguez said: "No, no, no. I love Joe. Again, I'm one of the leaders of the team. Maybe 10 years ago I react in a much different way. But I'm in a place in my career right now where the team is everything. I don't think there was anybody in the ballpark more excited for Raul than me . . . I didn't hang my head, I was the top guy on the step, and it was just a tremendous opportunity to cheer your teammate on . . . When he told me, I said, 'Joe, you've got to do exactly what you've got to do,' and got up to the top step and started cheering."

New York Sports