Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 9/3/12

Alex Rodriguez returned to the New York Yankees' lineup for the first time since July 24, going 1-for-4 and scoring a run Monday after missing the previous 36 games.

Rodriguez served as the designated hitter and batted fourth, hoping to inject some life into a struggling Yankees' lineup that had lost eight of its last 12 games.

"That's what I'm here to do," Rodriguez said before New York lost 4-3 to the Tampa Bay Rays, allowing the Baltimore Orioles to slice the Yankees' lead in the AL East to one game. "Obviously, just the flow of the game, sometimes it will take a few days to make sure you get back in the swing of things. But I hit cleanup for a reason, and they expect me to do what I do: be very productive and help this team win. Like I said before I got hurt, it's all about wins. Whether that's a sacrifice fly, drawing a walk or a three-run homer, whatever it takes to make this team better, that's what I'm willing to do."

Rodriguez popped out to shortstop in his first at-bat, then singled up the middle in the fourth inning, part of a three-run Yankees rally. Rodriguez scored from first base on Raul Ibanez's triple.

After grounding out in the sixth, Rodriguez had a chance to be the hero in the ninth, but he struck out against Fernando Rodney in the ninth.

Rodriguez said his left hand -- which was fractured July 24 when it was hit by a pitch in Seattle -- felt good, and he was pleased with his timing after his six-week layoff.

"Overall, I felt good," Rodriguez said. "It's a process. Today was another step forward. I saw the ball well, the hand felt good, and I liked the intensity the team played with today."

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