Arlington, TX (Sports Network) – Marcus Thames capped a two-run ninth with an RBI single, as the New York Yankees rallied past Texas, 7-6, to split a brief two-game series at Rangers Ballpark.
Thames went 3-for-5 with a solo homer for the Yankees, who moved 1 1/2 games ahead of the Rays in the AL East standings. Tampa Bay lost to the Tigers on Wednesday.
Alex Rodriguez, Brett Gardner, Derek Jeter, and Lance Berkman each had an RBI for New York, which trailed by five runs after five innings of play.
Javier Vazquez lasted just 4 1/3 innings in the start, giving up six runs on eight hits. Kerry Wood (2-4) pitched two scoreless frames of relief to pick up the win. Mariano Rivera recorded his 24th save of the season.
David Murphy and Mitch Moreland each drove in two runs for the Rangers, who have lost three of four. Josh Hamilton went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI.
Texas starter Cliff Lee entered the game having gone at least eight innings in each of his last 10 starts. That impressive run came to a halt Wednesday night. Lee lasted 6 1/3 frames, allowing four runs on eight hits. The left- hander also struck out 11 and walked zero. It was the longest such streak since Toronto’s Pat Hentgen went 12 in a row back in 1996.
Trailing 6-1, New York got a run back in the sixth. Jeter led off with a triple and raced home on Lee’s wild pitch.
The Yankees scored twice more in the seventh to make it a 6-4 game. Robinson Cano doubled and Austin Kearns singled to put men on the corners with one out. Berkman then plated a run with a ground-rule double to right-center field. Gardner followed with an RBI single, chasing Lee from the game.
“It’s big, he pretty much dominated us early in the game,” Thames said of Lee. “I guess he got tired and he got out of there. We battled back and got ourselves back in the game.”
Darren O’Day came in from the bullpen and struck out Jeter. Darren Oliver took over on the hill and got Nick Swisher swinging to end the inning.
“I felt like I was running out of gas there,” Lee said. “It was a hot day and they made me work quite a bit. I was still making pitches, but they weren’t located as well as I would like.”
Thames’ homer off Frank Francisco in the eighth cut the gap to 6-5.
The Yankees completed their comeback with a two-run ninth. Neftali Feliz (3-3) walked Berkman, who was replaced on the basepaths by Curtis Granderson. Gardner followed with a single before both runners advanced one base on a wild pitch. Jeter tied the game with an RBI single to center. Swisher struck out before Alexi Ogando came in from the bullpen. Thames put New York ahead with a run-scoring base hit to left. After Rodriguez went down swinging, Matt Harrison took over on the mound. Cano struck out to end the inning, but not before the Yankees took a 7-6 lead.
Rivera worked around a leadoff triple in the home ninth to seal the victory.
Michael Young’s homer inside the right-field foul pole put Texas ahead in the first.
The Yankees tied the game in the top of the fourth. Thames hit a one- out single and crossed the plate on Rodriguez’s double to center.
Texas took the lead back in the home fourth. Hamilton doubled, Murphy was intentionally walked, and Bengie Molina walked to load the bases with two outs. Moreland hit a two-run single to make it 3-1.
The Rangers tacked on three more runs in the fifth. Elvis Andrus and Young hit consecutive singles to begin the frame. Hamilton followed with an RBI double. Two batters later, Young broke for home on a Nelson Cruz grounder to third. Rodriguez tossed the ball to catcher Jorge Posada. Young, though, beat the rundown and snuck back to third. Murphy hit a two-run single to center to extend Texas’ margin to 6-1.
The Yankees swept the Rangers in three games in the Bronx earlier in the year and are 16-5 in their last 21 trips to Arlington, where they will also visit for a three-game set from Sept. 10-12…New York was without first baseman Mark Teixeira (personal)…Feliz suffered his third blown save of the season.