Arlington, Texas - David Murphy is becoming a prime-time player for the Texas Rangers, with another big hit to provide an exciting victory and a career-first for New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera.
Murphy’s single off Rivera with the bases loaded in the 10th inning gave the AL West-leading Rangers a 4-3 victory Tuesday night in an early August matchup of division leaders with a playoff-type atmosphere.
After go-ahead homers in two Texas victories over the last week, Murphy hit another homer before his game-winning single off Rivera (3-2) and getting mobbed by his teammates after rounding first base.
“Sweet stroke, that’s what we call him,” Rangers starter C.J. Wilson said.
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“I’ve been taking the single approach up there and looking out over the plate and reacting,” Murphy said. “It’s working right now and I’ll stick with it.”
It was Rivera’s first loss in 32 career appearances at Rangers Ballpark, where he had been 2-0 with 17 saves while the Yankees had won 29 consecutive games there since August 1996 when he pitched.
Michael Young scored the winning run after leading off the 10th with an infield single, beating Derek Jeter’s throw after the shortstop made a backhanded stop deep in the hole. Josh Hamilton followed Young with a rolling single through the right side of the infield.
Third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who hit career homer No. 601, made a run-saving defensive play with a diving stop of Vladimir Guerrero’s grounder to throw him out while the runners advanced only a base. Nelson Cruz was intentionally walked to load the bases before Murphy hit a liner that dropped in right-center.
“No matter how hard they’re hit, it’s a hit,” Rivera said. “In the newspaper, it will be a line drive. So it doesn’t matter, they’re hits.”
Rivera’s impressive streak against the Rangers included appearances in three consecutive playoff series New York won in the late 1990s that ended Texas’ only postseason appearances.
New York (69-43) still has the best record in baseball and Texas has by far the largest lead in any of baseball’s six divisions. The Rangers (65-47) are 81/2 games ahead of the Los Angeles Angels.