Bird busts slump with 429-foot blast, 3 hits

broke out of his season-long slump in a big way on Sunday night. The Yankees first baseman hit the first pitch he saw from St. Louis righty Adam Wainwright for a go-ahead two-run homer in what became a 9-3 victory before 31,706 at .

Bird had started the season 1-for-26 — a .038 average — in 30 total plate appearances. He hadn’t had a hit in 20 straight at-bats before the home run.

Bird also doubled in the fourth inning, drew a walk in the sixth and singled in the eighth. His 3-for-3 night raised his average 100 points to .138.

“It’s just nice to be back on the board and back to contributing to the team,” Bird said.

“He had a great night,” Yankees manager said.

“Tonight, that’s the Bird I knew,” Aaron Judge added.

The rookie slugger homered for the third straight game, dispatching a 437-foot homer to Monument Park in the seventh.

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“I was just trying to make contact,” Judge said. “If my barrel can beat the ball to a spot, I think are going to happen. That’s all I was trying to do there.”

Rickie Weeks Jr. hit a first-inning homer off the left-handed Montgomery, who settled down to scatter five hits over 4 2/3 innings. He took a no-decision but will be rewarded with another turn in the Yankees’ rotation.

“You can’t let that kind of stuff snowball,” Montgomery said. “You’ve just got to forget it and go right at the next guy. You never want to give up a two-run jack in the first inning, but I just tried to focus after that and get back after it.”

Rays left-hander Blake Snell lasted 4 2/3 innings, permitting two runs (none earned) on two hits.

“We’ve got to play cleaner games, for sure, if we’re going to win,” Rays manager said. “We had opportunities early that we didn’t capitalize on. Their pitcher, he did a nice job of limiting damage. Mixed all of his pitches in really well. We had some situations with guys on base where we just couldn’t quite push some more runs across.”

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Yankees #20 Jorge Posada Navy Blue Flexbase Authentic Collection Stitched MLB Jersey“I’m obviously disappointed,” Tanaka said through an interpreter. “I feel like I wasn’t able to do what a starter is supposed to do in the two games. You can’t get your head down. You’ve got to look at the positives and try to make the necessary adjustments and move forward.”

After surrendering a career-high seven earned runs on Opening Day, Tanaka blanked the Orioles over the first three innings before losing the strike zone. He hit two batters for the first time in his career and issued four walks for just the third time in 77 big league starts.

“I felt like I had good command of the ball going into the game, for the first three innings,” Tanaka said. “As you could see, the fourth inning and fifth inning, that command started getting out of sync.”

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that it seemed like Tanaka had Seth Smith put away in the fifth, but Smith singled sharply to center field on an 0-2 pitch. Tanaka then drilled Adam Jones to set up Manny Machado’s run-scoring double off the right-field wall.

“He made some pitches to keep it where it was, but it looked like he was going to be able to go six or seven today,” Girardi said.

Mark Trumbo’s added a run-scoring fielder’s choice before Tanaka pinned the bases loaded by striking out Hyun Soo Kim and getting Jonathan Schoop to pop out, concluding his 92-pitch outing.

“In the end, ultimately, he came out and we had the lead,” catcher said. “He gave us everything he had there toward the end. That’s all you can ask from a pitcher against a good hitting team like that.”

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