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Posada turns back the clock; Yankees' DH belts grand slam, six RBIs

NEW YORK -- Jorge Posada gave manager Joe Girardi little choice but to give him another start.

Phil Hughes also got a reprieve, though his strong outing Saturday might not have been enough on its own to prevent a possible demotion to the bullpen.

Posada hit a grand slam and drove in six runs in his first game since being benched six days ago, and Hughes made his case to remain in the New York Yankees' rotation with six effective innings in a 9-2 victory that ended the Tampa Bay Rays' five-game winning streak.

"It's special," Posada said. "I got an opportunity to play -- and it's tough to sit around. It's not easy to be sitting here and look at everybody playing."

Curtis Granderson hit his 33rd homer to tie Jose Bautista for the big league lead and Robinson Cano had two hits and scored twice to help the Yankees rebound from a loss to the Rays on Friday night.

"We didn't pitch well," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "That's not like us."

Getting the start at designated hitter on the day his pal Derek Jeter was honored for reaching 3,000 hits, Posada laced a bases-loaded single off Jeremy Hellickson (10-8) in the second to give New York a 2-0 lead. He singled in the fourth then hit his 10th homer and 10th career slam in the fifth off Brandon Gomes.

Posada has not played since being dropped from his regular spot as the designated hitter Sunday at Boston.

After the game, he learned that he would DH again today.

"As I've said, he's still going to play a role on this team," Girardi said. "We need him."

In the final year of a four year, $52.4 million contract, Posada turns 40 on Wednesday. He is in what most likely is his last year with the Yankees, and it's been a trying one.

He has had difficulty adjusting to his role as a full-time DH after being the team's primary catcher for most of his 17-year career.

Posada said before the game that he wants "to do everything I can to try to stay in the lineup."

He came through in the clutch: Posada's run-scoring hits both came after a Rays pitcher walked two batters to load the bases.

"From now on I have to look at the lineup card and be ready," Posada said.

Hughes (3-4) is in jeopardy of being dropped from the rotation despite two consecutive solid starts. Girardi is committed to going to a five-man rotation from the temporary six starters and the two names being mentioned most for demotion were Hughes and A.J. Burnett.

But that decision will have to wait. After days of talking about the coming change, Girardi revealed postgame that Freddy Garcia cut his finger in a kitchen accident about four or five days ago and will not start today.

Instead, Burnett will face the Rays.

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