ARLINGTON, Texas - The Rangers relievers got quick redemption, and Texas finally has won a postseason game at home for the first time in its 50-season history.
Elvis Andrus got the Rangers off to a running start, David Murphy led a parade of extra-base hits and the bullpen that faltered the night before held strong this time as Texas got even in the American League Championship Series with a 7-2 victory over the New York Yankees in Game 2 on Saturday.
The Rangers again built an early 5-0 lead – and stayed ahead this time, unlike the series opener when the Yankees had their biggest postseason comeback in the seventh inning or later. Texas snapped a 10-game postseason losing streak against New York.
The best-of-seven series now switches to Yankee Stadium for Game 3 on Monday night, when Texas will have hired ace left-hander Cliff Lee on the mound. Lee has won his past four starts in New York, including a complete game for Philadelphia in last year’s World Series.
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Colby Lewis limited New York to two runs over 52/3 innings, and the bullpen rebounded from the eighth- inning debacle in Game 1 that allowed the defending World Series champion Yankees to escape with a 6-5 victory even though CC Sabathia lasted only four innings.
“That’s what they have been doing for us all year. That’s how we got to this point,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “Last night, we didn’t get it done. We didn’t make any excuses.”
New York’s postseason winning streak over the Rangers included knocking them out of the playoffs in 1996, 1998 and 1999, Texas’ only other postseason appearances. These Rangers don’t plan to be easily dismissed by the Bronx Bombers, who have won 27 World Series titles and 40 pennants.
Andrus led off the first with an infield single on a chopper that deflected off starter Phil Hughes’ glove. Andrus went to second on a wild pitch, then stole third before Josh Hamilton drew a walk.
With Nelson Cruz batting and two outs, Hamilton took off for second base, and Andrus ran home when Jorge Posada threw the ball to second. The double steal put Texas up 1-0 before Cruz’s inning-ending strikeout.
“Elvis got on and basically took three bags,” Lewis said.
“Opportunity seemed right, so I took a chance. That’s the way we play,” Washington said. “It worked. Got us going.”
Murphy homered off the facade of the second deck of seats in the second for a 2-0 lead, then an inning later he and Bengie Molina had consecutive RBI doubles to make it 5-0.
Texas had lost its first seven home playoff games, the most by any team before finally getting a victory in front of its own fans, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Five of those losses had been to New York, plus two to Tampa Bay last weekend in the first round when the Rangers had to go back to Florida for a deciding Game 5 with Lee pitching for Texas’ first postseason series win.
Andy Pettitte pitches for the Yankees against Lee on Monday night.
After the Rangers built a 5-0 lead through four innings in Game 1 and chased Sabathia, they didn’t tack on any more runs. New York finally scored on Robinson Cano’s homer in the seventh and rallied for five runs off five pitchers in the eighth.
Cano homered again Saturday, his 435-foot solo shot deep in the second deck of seats in right making it 7-2 in the sixth.
When Lewis was pulled with two on in the sixth and a 7-2 lead, Clay Rapada struck out pinch-hitter Marcus Thames for the final out.
Rookie All-Star closer Neftali Feliz walked two before finally getting Cano out on a game-ending flyball, setting off a fireworks burst over the ballpark.