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Yankees stun Rangers with ninth-inning rally

The SportsXchange

ARLINGTON -- The Texas Rangers' bullpen finally caved and the New York Yankees took advantage.

New York rallied with two runs in the ninth off All-Star closer Joe Nathan to beat the Rangers 5-4 Tuesday night at Rangers Ballpark.

Brent Lillibridge delivered the game-winning hit, driving home Eduardo Nunez with one out. Nunez had tripled off the wall to score Vernon Wells to tie the game.

"It was a great win," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "A lot of guys came through and battled."

Texas lost for the first time this year when leading after eight innings after winning 51 straight. The Yankees have won four games this season when trailing after eight.

Nathan failed to convert a save for only the second time in 33 tries this season. New York also ended a shutout streak from the Texas bullpen that had stretched to 25 2/3 innings.

"(Nunez) got a ball he could hit and hit it, and Lillibridge did the rest," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We had the lead and got the ball to Joe. I feel very confident in that situation."

Future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera came on in the ninth and was able to nail down his 32nd save, which is second in the majors. Rivera, the All-Star Game MVP, struck out two of the three batters he faced.

The Rangers (55-45) and Yankees (52-47) have split the first two of a four-game series that continues Wednesday night with Matt Garza's first start in a Texas uniform. New York counters with veteran lefty Andy Pettitte.

Texas had taken a lead into the ninth thanks to a four-run outburst in the sixth. The damage got started thanks to an error by Lillibridge, who couldn't handle a hot shot at third from Nelson Cruz. Adrian Beltre doubled to center to score Cruz.

Beltre trotted home on Elvis Andrus' two-out single, chasing New York starter Phil Hughes despite both runs being unearned. Boone Logan entered in relief and was immediately greeted by a two-run shot by Mitch Moreland to straight-away center.

Moreland had just one home run in his previous 26 games since being activated from the disabled list.

Girardi praised Hughes for keeping the Yankees in the game.

"I didn't have my best stuff," Hughes said, "but I got out of some jams early. It was a grind."

Unlike the outing from Yu Darvish the night before, Texas starter Alexi Ogando wasn't nearly as sharp after his stint on the disabled list. Ogando hadn't pitched since June 5 and that rust was evident as the Yankees opened up a 3-0 lead through five innings.

Ogando was replaced by Ross Wolf to begin the sixth.

Hughes breezed through the first five innings, keeping the Rangers scoreless and allowing just two hits.

The Yankees got to Ogando in the third with four straight hits to open the inning -- back-to-back doubles from Melky Mesa and Austin Romine, and singles by Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki -- to take a 2-0 lead.

The runs snapped a streak of 21 consecutive scoreless innings Texas pitchers had against the Yankees, which dated back to June 26.

New York added a run in the fourth after Wells beat a throw to the plate. Wells opened the inning with a double and, after reaching third, scored on Lillibridge's grounder. Texas second baseman Ian Kinsler threw home, but Wells successfully avoided catcher A.J. Pierzynski trying to block the plate.

The Rangers wasted a scoring chance in the bottom of the first after Kinsler led off with a double. With Kinsler at third and one out, Cruz grounded out to Hughes. Pierzynski flied out to left to end the inning.

NOTES: Various reports had the Yankees interested in re-acquiring Alfonso Soriano to help their ailing offense. The 37-year-old outfielder -- formerly a second baseman in New York -- is batting .256 with 17 home runs and 51 RBI for the Chicago Cubs going into Tuesday. Soriano was traded to Texas in the Alex Rodriguez deal in 2004. ... According to Baseball Reference, by virtue of Monday's 3-0 shutout win in the series opener, the Rangers became the first team to throw consecutive shutouts with three or fewer hits in each game against the Yankees since the Boston Red Sox on June 21-22, 1916. Derek Holland had a two-hit shutout on June 27 at Yankee Stadium. New York had three hits Monday. ... Yankees closer Rivera met with members of the Rangers ground crew before the game, handing out autographed baseballs and posing for pictures.
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