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Judge hits 3 homers for 2nd time in a month as the Yankees slow down the Diamondbacks, 7-1

New York Yankees' Aaron Judge gestures to teammates after hitting a home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the seventh inning of a baseball game Friday, Sept. 22, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge gestures to teammates after hitting a home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the seventh inning of a baseball game Friday, Sept. 22, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)nk Franklin II)

BY LARRY FLEISHER contributing

NEW YORK (AP) — Three big swings by Aaron Judge resulted in a costly loss for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Judge became the first player in Yankees history with two three-homer games in one season Friday night as New York cruised to a 7-1 victory over the Diamondbacks.

Arizona’s five-game winning streak was snapped, and the Diamondbacks’ lead over the Chicago Cubs for the second of three NL wild-card spots was reduced to one game. Arizona fell to 1-7 against New York teams this season after dropping six of seven to the Mets.

“You can’t make mistakes to him,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “He’s the one guy we talked about pregame that you’ve got to pitch very tough and to get ahead of him you’ve got to make pitches and you can’t take anything for granted through the at-bat. You’ve got to finish the at-bat and make quality pitches all the way through and when you don’t, he hits three homers.”

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Judge launched a three-run shot in the third inning and a two-run drive in the fifth off rookie starter Brandon Pfaadt (2-9). The slugger added his third homer in the seventh, a solo drive off Slade Cecconi.

It was the second career three-homer game for Judge — both in the past month. He also went deep three times Aug. 23 at home against Washington to help New York snap its first nine-game losing streak since 1982.

“It’s incredible,” Judge said about becoming the first Yankees player with multiple three-homer games in a season. “You see the list of players that have come through here, the retired numbers out there, but I just tried to do my job.”

Judge became the sixth player in franchise history with multiple three-homer games.

Lou Gehrig, who also hit four homers in June 1926 at Philadelphia against the A’s, leads the Yankees with four such games. Joe DiMaggio and Alex Rodríguez had three, and Tony Lazzeri and Bobby Murcer had two apiece.

“Greatness doing special things,” New York manager Aaron Boone said. “Those are things that, kind of the crazy things that happen, but it’s just a special player. Not surprising that he’s on that list.”

It was the 35th time a Yankees player hit three homers in a game. It was the ninth time a major leaguer had three in one game this year and Judge is the only one to do it twice.

Judge went 4 for 4 with a double and tied a career high with six RBIs. The reigning AL MVP got his eighth career four-hit game and first since May 20 at Cincinnati. He drove in six for the fourth time in his career.

Trying to avoid their first losing season since going 76-86 in 1992 during Buck Showalter’s first year as manager, the Yankees moved two games over .500 at 78-76. Still, they are close to being eliminated from playoff contention.

Judge’s first homer gave the Yankees a 3-0 lead. Two batters after Pfaadt committed an error by misplaying Oswald Peraza’s soft comebacker, Judge lifted a first-pitch sinker into the New York bullpen in right-center.

His two-run drive to right-center in the fifth made it 6-0. After rounding the bases in the seventh, Judge took a curtain call from the Yankee Stadium crowd of 39,143 and tipped his cap as teammate Gleyber Torres stepped out of the batter’s box.

“It was great,” Judge said. “Anytime Yankee fans want to show some love and appreciation, I love it. It was a pretty cool moment right there.”

Judge was left in the on-deck circle when Estevan Florial made the final out of the eighth.

Judge is hitting .267 with 35 homers and 70 RBIs in 100 games this season. He missed nearly eight weeks after spraining his right big toe on June 3 at Dodger Stadium. He returned to the lineup July 28.

The five-time All-Star hit 62 home runs last season, breaking the previous American League record of 61 set by former Yankees slugger Roger Maris in 1961.

In his second start since being claimed off waivers from Seattle on Sept. 14, former Diamondbacks pitcher Luke Weaver (3-5) earned his first win for the Yankees. He allowed four hits in 5 1/3 innings for his first victory since July 3 with Cincinnati.

Jhony Brito gave up Christian Walker’s 31st homer in the ninth but pitched 3 2/3 innings for his first career save.

A week after throwing 5 1/3 scoreless innings against the Cubs, Pfaddt allowed six runs (five earned) and eight hits in 4 1/3 innings.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Diamondbacks: RHP Miguel Castro was placed on the paternity list and flew to the Dominican Republic. Castro is expected to return Monday for the start of a three-game series in Chicago against the White Sox. … Cecconi, who made six appearances earlier this year, was recalled from Triple-A Reno.

Yankees: LHP Wandy Peralta (strained left triceps) was placed on the injured list and will miss the rest of the season. A free agent after this season, Peralta is 4-2 with a 2.83 ERA in 63 appearances. … RHP Yoendrys Gómez was recalled from Double-A Somerset to replace Peralta and could make a start during the final week. In 19 starts with Somerset, Gómez was 0-3 with a 3.58 ERA. … OF Everson Pereira (hamstring) missed his eighth straight game but is progressing, according to Boone.

UP NEXT

Arizona RHP Zach Davies (2-5, 6.81 ERA) opposes New York LHP Carlos Rodón (3-6, 5.90) on Saturday afternoon, though heavy rain is in the forecast.

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