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A-Rod moves within 3 hits of career 3,000

Yankees slugger records pair of singles in opener of eight-game homestand

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees returned home on Wednesday with thoughts of a significant milestone in the near future, as the designated hitter opened an eight-game homestand just five hits shy of becoming the 29th player in history to reach 3,000 hits.

He reduced that number by two with a pair of singles in the Yankees' 2-1 win over the Marlins. Rodriguez reclaimed his regular spot as the designated hitter for Wednesday's contest, singling twice against Marlins rookie right-hander Jose Urena.

Rodriguez's first-inning RBI single gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead, and he also dropped another single into center field in the fifth to give him 2,997 for his career. Rodriguez also walked twice.

"It would be pretty awesome," Rodriguez said. "I would be very excited about it. I know my mom's excited about it; she's watching every day and counting down, and that will be an exciting day in the Rodriguez house for sure."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi has been mindful of the strain that numeric goals can place on players. Rodriguez went through some of that last month, when he was closing in on Willie Mays' career home run total of 660, overtaking him for fourth place all-time.

Video: Must C Crushed: A-Rod passes Mays with No. 661

"I hope he gets it over with tomorrow so he doesn't have to answer questions and he can move on," Girardi said after Wednesday's game. "It didn't seem to bother him tonight. I thought he was patient. I didn't think he went out of his zone tonight. I thought he had a good plan at the plate, so we'll see what tomorrow brings."

Rodriguez is batting .274 with 12 home runs and 33 RBIs, and on Wednesday recorded his first stolen base since September 2013. He said that the two days out of the lineup during Interleague games in Miami helped recharge him for the homestand.

Video: [email protected]: A-Rod swipes first base since 2013

After missing all of last season while serving a performance-enhancing drug suspension, Rodriguez has enjoyed largely positive receptions in the Bronx this season, continuing a theme that was set by his return in Spring Training.

"I think the fans have responded at home very well. On the road, not so well, but not so unusual either," Girardi said. "It seems to have been the case for a long period of time when you're Alex Rodriguez."

Compared to the attention that surrounded Derek Jeter's countdown to the milestone in 2011, Rodriguez's chase for 3,000 hits has seemed muted. Rodriguez has said that he is unconcerned with how the accomplishment is perceived around the game.

"I'm excited. I'm having fun," Rodriguez said. "I'm relaxed, I'm having a good time. This is a fun clubhouse. This is a great team to come to work every day, and I'm just having a lot of fun. Just trying to help the team win."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.
Read More: New York Yankees, Alex Rodriguez