Yankees 4, Rangers 3, 1st game; Yankees 5, Rangers 2, 2nd game.

Preview | Box Score | Recap

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP)—Mike Mussina knew he felt sharp from the first inning. It’s a feeling the Yankees hope spreads around.

Mussina and Andy Pettitte gave the Yankees the type of starts New York has been missing for much of the season, and Mariano Rivera came through twice as New York beat Texas 4-3 and 5-2 Thursday night to sweep a doubleheader and three-game series from the Rangers.

“Pitching does that to you,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said. “It gives you a better personality as a team when you know you’ve got guys out there controlling the game somewhat.”

The bullpen didn’t hold the lead for Pettitte but held it for Mussina in his return from the disabled list. With Hideki Matsui hitting a tiebreaking double in the eighth inning of the opener and Doug Mientkiewicz supplying an early two-run homer in the second game, the Yankees matched their longest winning streak of the season at 3.

“We had a little extra attitude this week,” Mientkiewicz said. “Not that we were freaking out, but it was like, let’s put our foot on the gas a little bit.”

Driving the second game was Mussina (1-1), who threw 64 pitches in his first appearance since straining a hamstring on April 11. He allowed one run and four hits in five innings in his return to the Yankees’ injury-depleted pitching staff.

“It was a good day,” Mussina said. “I wish I could have pitched longer, but considering I’ve been off for a while it’s not bad.”

Rivera saved two games in one day for the fifth time in his major league career, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the first since Sept. 29, 2004, against Minnesota. Rivera, who has three saves in five chances this season, pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the opener but allowed a pair of singles leading off the ninth in the second game before striking out Gerald Laird and getting Kenny Lofton to ground into a double play.

New York (12-14), which moved ahead of Baltimore and out of last in the AL East, headed home for a four-game weekend series against Seattle. Because of the injuries to the starting staff, Darrell Rasner and Matt DeSalvo are scheduled to start the final two games against the Mariners—DeSalvo will be the 10th starter for the Yankees in their first 30 games, a major league first, according to Elias.

Since owner George Steinbrenner said the team’s start was “clearly not acceptable,” the Yankees have gone 3-0.

Texas has lost five straight and is last in the AL West.

The Rangers’ Sammy Sosa was hit on the helmet by a Brian Bruney pitch in the sixth inning of the second game. Bruney’s 2-1 pitch hit Sosa on the side of the helmet, knocking it off. Sosa fell to his knees in the batter’s box, was evaluated by trainers, then walked to the dugout under his own strength.

“He checked out fine,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “We’ll see how he feels when he comes in tomorrow.”

Robinson Tejeda (3-2) gave up three runs and six hits in 6 1-3 innings.

Derek Jeter’s run-scoring single in the seventh inning of the second game extended his hitting streak to 20 games. Hideki Matsui went 4-for-8 with three doubles in the doubleheader.

After Luis Vizcaino (2-1) allowed Jerry Hairston’s seventh-inning homer that tied the score 3-3 in the opener, Matsui hit the go-ahead double in eighth inning.

Pettitte handed over a 3-2 lead to the bullpen after allowing two runs and five hits in six innings with five strikeouts. He also turned over leads to the bullpen on April 15 and 20 only to have Rivera fail to hold them.

Pettitte didn’t feel ready after warming up in the bullpen.

“It was another struggle for me,” he said. “I was battling myself mechanically again. Wish I could have gone deeper in the game, but we got a win, and that’s the big thing.”

Jeter reached against Joaquin Benoit (0-1) leading off the eighth on an infield single. Bobby Abreu struck out and Jeter advanced on a wild pitch— after he was nearly picked off but was safe because first baseman Mark Teixeira dropped the ball for an error.

After Alex Rodriguez grounded out, Texas intentionally walked Jason Giambi to pitch to Matsui, who doubled deep to right-center. Giambi hesitated twice on the basepaths and was thrown out at the plate.

Giambi said he began cramping up after rounding second but was OK. He also homered in the fourth, and said he felt more in the game because he was playing first base for the second time this year.

“We’ve gone through some tough stretches, but the one thing I felt that this year is we’ve never really gave in,” said Giambi, who also homered.

The Yankees placed Phil Hughes on the DL before the game, two days after he became the fourth New York player to injure a hamstring. On Wednesday, the Yankees fired strength and conditioning coach Marty Miller.

Texas, too, has injury issues—scheduled starter Kevin Millwood was scratched with a mild left hamstring strain and replaced by Mike Wood, who allowed three runs—two earned—and five hits in 6 1-3 innings.

Notes

Millwood is expected to return to the rotation when the Rangers visit the Yankees from May 8-10. … Yankees GM Brian Cashman said RHP Carl Pavano (forearm) is trying to schedule an exam with Dr. James Andrews. Pavano hasn’t pitched since April 9. … The Yankees have won 10 straight games at Texas. … Sosa’s double in the first game was his 1,000th extra-base hit.

Related Articles

Scoreboard

Thursday, May 3