In the strange life and times of Alex Rodriguez it might have been expected — that on a long day of rising emotions and approaching goodbyes he would somehow step into the middle of the script to grab a leading role.

This twist happened in the seventh inning at Yankee Stadium Friday night when Rodriguez hit a lofty grand slam into the right-field seats. With that baseball’s wayward star had himself another record — becoming the game’s all-time leader in grand slams — providing the Yankees with a small breath as they beat the San Francisco Giants 5-1 and clawed to remain in the mad scramble for a wild-card berth.

Some of the fans may detest Rodriguez. Others may see him as an underdog hero but either way he continues to barrel through the record books. The grand slam was his 24th carrying him past Lou Gehrig who had held the mark for more than 70 years. Rodriguez perhaps mindful that allegations he used drugs to boost his output may make his accomplishments suspect downplayed the milestone.

"It means I’m getting old" he said when asked to describe the significance of the moment. "It’s hard to think about things like that right now. We’re really on a sprint to the end here and every win is huge for us."

It had been a bittersweet day for the Yankees beginning with Andy Pettitte revealing his plans to retire after the end of the season and ending with the sight of Rivera also approaching his last day pounding his mitt in small celebration.

CC Sabathia another stalwart Yankee left-hander got the victory pitching seven innings and holding the Giants to a single run on seven hits. Alfonso Soriano’s line drive homer in the second gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead before a double by the Giants center fielder Juan Perez evened the score.

For the Yankee hitters the chore at hand was solving Tim Lincecum a winner of two Cy Young awards who no longer carries the same aura to the mound. He is heading to a third straight losing season. These days he rarely pitches past the sixth inning.