Rangers 5, Yankees 2

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NEW YORK (AP)—Somehow, the team with the worst pitching in the majors made the New York Yankees look absolutely pitiful at the plate.

Ismael Valdes came off the disabled list and combined with three perfect relievers to silence the Yankees, and the Texas Rangers took advantage of two tough errors to win 5-2 Saturday.

Rangers pitchers retired the last 16 batters, and that was a real surprise. Texas began the day with the highest ERA in baseball, and had allowed the most runs and hits in the AL.

“This is exactly what we needed,” said Francisco Cordero, who struck out the side in the eighth inning.

Manager Buck Showalter’s last-place team sent his former club to its third straight series loss—the Yankees had not dropped three series in a row since May 11-20, 1999.

Overall, the first-place Yankees lost for the fifth time in six games.

“We’re about as flat as a pancake,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said. “You try to eliminate the highs and lows, but we certainly need to go out there and make something happen.”

Valdes (3-2) had been sidelined since April 19 because of tendinitis in the back of his right shoulder.

Other than allowing a two-run homer to Robin Ventura, Valdes was sharp. He gave up five hits in five innings and left with a 5-2 lead.

“I’m pleased,” he said. “I can, I hope, move on to higher and higher pitch counts.”

The Texas bullpen was even more impressive, a day after it held New York to one run over seven innings in an 8-5, 12-inning victory.

Brian Shouse struck out two in two perfect innings and Cordero struck out John Flaherty, Alfonso Soriano and Derek Jeter.

Ugueth Urbina finished off the Yankees in the ninth for his 12th save in 13 chances.

“I have always been saying that if we get some good innings out of our starting pitching, we’re going to win a lot of games because the bullpen is there,” Cordero said.

Carl Everett delivered a timely, two-run single off Andy Pettitte and two more runs scored when Yankees left fielder Hideki Matsui dropped a fly ball after a long gallop. Matsui also lost a fly ball in the sun and, for the first time, the Japanese star heard boos from the crowd of 51,095 at Yankee Stadium.

Pettitte (4-4) lost his third straight start, matching a career high. He pitched seven innings and gave up five runs, just two of them earned.

“I’m not doing a good job at all of making good pitches and bailing out my team,” he said. “Right now, I’m getting hit. Everything that could go wrong is going wrong.”

Texas scored three times in the second, with singles by Juan Gonzalez, Rafael Palmeiro and Herbert Perry opening the inning and producing a run. With one out, Todd Greene hit a hard grounder to third base that Ventura could only knock down, and he was charged with an error that loaded the bases.

With two outs, Everett grounded a 2-2 pitch up the middle for a 3-0 lead. Ventura’s seventh homer drew the Yankees within a run in the bottom half.

In the Texas fourth, with runners on second and third, Michael Young hit a long drive to left-center that Matsui pursued. Matsui got his glove on the ball in the gap, but it popped out and two runs scored.

“It’s completely my miss, my error,” Matsui said through a translator.

Notes

Rangers star Alex Rodriguez was hitless in five at-bats and is in an 0-for-14 slump. … Texas 3B Mark Teixeira returned to the lineup. He had not started since leaving Wednesday’s game after being hit by a pitch in the left hand. … The Yankees lost their previous two series to Oakland and Anaheim. In 1999, they dropped three straight series to Anaheim, the Chicago White Sox and Boston. … Texas’ Hank Blalock did not play against the left-handed Pettitte after driving in a career-high six runs Friday night. Blalock leads the majors with a .367 average. … RHP Jason Anderson pitched two hitless innings for the Yankees. He was called up from Triple-A Columbus before the game when 1B-DH Nick Johnson was put on the 15-day disabled list. … The Yankees fell to 11-9

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