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Cruz Homers To Tie Game, Then Win It

Arlington, TX (Sports Network) – Nelson Cruz hit the tying home run in the eighth inning and smacked the game-winner in the bottom of the 13th, sending Texas to a 6-5 win over the Yankees in the opener of a three-game series.

Both were first-pitch home runs, and gave the AL West-leading Rangers their third straight win. Texas used a club-record 11 pitchers, with Scott Feldman (7-10) taking the victory.

“A team effort,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “Thank God we were in September and we had the people to keep the game in hand. A great team effort. Those guys battled, and they certainly deserved it.”

Feldman got into trouble in the 13th inning, when Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano hit one-out singles to put runners on the corners. Pinch-hitter Jorge Posada hit a ball hard, but right at second baseman Andres Blanco for the second out.

After Feldman walked Curtis Granderson to load the bases, Chad Moeller flied out to center to keep it a 5-5 game.

Cruz then stepped in as the leadoff batter against Chad Gaudin (0-4) and took a first-pitch fastball the opposite way, sending it over the wall in right- center field to end the game.

The loss was the Yankees’ fourth in five games and trimmed their lead in the AL East to 1 1/2 games over the Rays, who beat Toronto earlier Friday.

Cruz’s heroics came five innings after his game-tying homer. New York held a 5-4 lead and sent Joba Chamberlain to the mound, but Cruz hammered the right- hander’s first pitch — a hanging slider — to left field to even the score.

“They’ve got a great lineup from top to bottom, and they can beat you in a lot of ways,” Chamberlain said. “They did it with the long ball today.”

Chamberlain got through the inning, and the game turned into a battle of the bullpens. The contest remained scoreless, though only after several well struck balls fell feet short of a home run.

In the bottom of the ninth and two away, David Murphy sent a Phil Hughes fastball deep to left, only to have Brett Gardner make the catch at the wall.

Then in the top of the 10th, Mark Teixeira crushed a Darren O’Day pitch to center, where Julio Borbon tracked it down at the warning track.

In the home half, Vladimir Guerrero led off with a single off Mariano Rivera to bring up Cruz. The Rangers slugger hit a low pitch deep to center, but Granderson made the catch near the wall. Rivera got out of the inning from there, striking out Ian Kinsler and Mitch Moreland.

But Cruz delivered three innings later with his 19th homer of the season.

Texas got on the board in the second inning on Borbon’s run-scoring groundout, but the Yankees struck back against Rangers starter C.J. Wilson with a four- run third.

Rodriguez had a two-run double, while Marcus Thames and Francisco Cervelli produced RBI singles. Wilson managed to limit the damage to four runs, but was pulled after that, having thrown 75 pitches. He gave up six hits, walked three and struck out five.

But Texas chipped away against Yankees starter Javier Vazquez, getting a two- run double from Borbon in the fourth.

Pedro Strop walked Teixeira with the bases loaded in the top of the sixth to give the Yankees a 5-3 edge, but the Rangers got that run back in the home half.

Kinsler led off with a single to chase Vazquez, and later scored on another RBI groundout from Borbon.

Kinsler was thrown out of the game in the 10th inning after arguing a called third strike…Cruz recorded his sixth career multi-homer game…Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter had one hit, the 2,899th of his career…Texas played without outfielder Josh Hamilton, who missed his sixth consecutive game with a bruised rib cage…Texas shortstop Elvis Andrus returned to the lineup after missing five games with right hamstring tightness.