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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Jason Giambi and Shawn Chacon Help Yankees Over Rangers 8 to 7

My friend in New York says the Yankees are in the tank, but they just blasted the Texas Rangers, so....Yes, they had a bad series against Toronto, but the Yankees are still just a game-and-a-half behind the Boston Red Sox, who lost to the Oakland A's last night.

ARLINGTON -- MLB.com , By Mark Feinsand / MLB.com -- Since being demoted from the starting rotation more than three weeks ago, Shawn Chacon has done a lot of sitting around.

The right-hander had pitched just twice since July 4, making two appearances in last weekend's series against the Blue Jays in Toronto.

When the Yankees took a two-run lead into the eighth inning on Wednesday night, it looked like it would be another night for Chacon to sit in the bullpen, watching his teammates contribute to another win.

But when things took a turn for the worse and the Yankees gave up the lead, manager Joe Torre called on Chacon to come in with the bases loaded and no outs, hoping that he would be able to limit the damage.

"You come in with the bases loaded and no outs, you're just trying to get outs," Chacon said. "Getting out of there with no runs is the best thing, but realistically, it rarely ever happens."

A strikeout of Mark DeRosa and an athletic double play by Chacon himself allowed the Yankees to escape the inning with their deficit at one run. The unlikely had happened, giving the offense one last crack at the Rangers in the ninth.

"After Chacon got the double play, I had a good feeling," said Alex Rodriguez. "We were deflated, but we got some momentum back. When they didn't score, we felt this was our game."

Jason Giambi took care of the rest, drilling a two-run homer off closer Akinori Otsuka, as the Yankees left Texas with an 8-7 win over the Rangers, completing the three-game sweep.

"[Chacon] came in and was totally lights-out," Torre said. "He kept us in a position to do what we did. He's the player of the game for me."

"After getting out of that jam, someone made a comment that we were going to win this game," Chacon (5-3) said. "It just felt like we were. They could have blown it open and they didn't, and it wasn't a game that was ever out of either team's reach."

The win vaulted the Yankees into the Wild Card lead, a half-game ahead of the White Sox and Twins. New York also closed the gap in the AL East, where Boston's lead for first place now stands at just 1 1/2 games.

"It's crazy, but we're not really concerned," said Torre of the playoff standings. "I'm sure other people think it's a great accomplishment, but you don't accomplish it until the season is over."

"It's still too early to sit around and worry about who is in the playoffs now," Derek Jeter said. "You don't set your sights on the Wild Card. That's something that you fall back on, so we still have some work to be done. We're trying to catch Boston."

The final two innings of the game featured a total of nine runs, as the Yankees took a 6-4 lead with four runs in the eighth only to watch the Rangers counter with three in the bottom of the frame.

Giambi, who entered his final at-bat with just four hits in 25 at-bats on the road trip, landed the final blow with his homer, allowing closer Mariano Rivera to close out the win for his 25th save.

"That game was a roller coaster," Torre said. "It was a great game and it was exciting, but I'm glad we came out on top. If Jason was going to save up for a hit, that was the one to get."

"Derek and I were goofing around in the on-deck circle; I told him to get on and give me an opportunity," Giambi said. "I know I didn't swing the bat well in the first couple of games here in Texas, but I got one big one. That's all that really matters."

Andy Phillips (3-for-5) snapped an 0-for-18 skid with a two-run single in the first, but Texas countered with a pair of runs in both the second and fourth innings, taking a 4-2 lead.

Starter Jaret Wright, who hasn't pitched more than six innings in a game this season, was charged with four runs (three earned) on five hits and a walk, striking out three, over 5 1/3 innings.

A-Rod cut the Rangers' lead to one with a solo homer to center, his 22nd, in the eighth against reliever Francisco Cordero. Rodriguez went 4-for-12 with two walks, a hit-by-pitch, two RBIs and five runs scored in the three-game series against his former team.

Cordero walked Bernie Williams and Phillips singled, putting the go-ahead run on base. Melky Cabrera tried to lay down a sacrifice bunt, but fouled off his attempt. Torre took the bunt sign off, but Cabrera missed the sign, bunting it foul for a second time.

That turned out to be good news for the Yankees, as Cabrera drilled a 2-2 pitch for a double to left-center field, scoring both runners to give the Yankees a 5-4 lead.

"We're still working on signs," joked Torre. "That at-bat was huge; it was certainly one of the real big keys for us."

Catcher Sal Fasano, acquired in a trade with the Phillies earlier in the day, bunted Cabrera to third. Cabrera scored on a Cordero wild pitch, boosting the lead to two runs.

With a two-run lead, the Yankees had Kyle Farnsworth warming up in the bullpen, but Farnsworth sat down after his back tightened up on him. T.J. Beam came in instead, giving up a walk and a double to put the tying runs in scoring position.

That brought reliever Scott Proctor into the game -- the third consecutive game in which he has pitched -- and he gave up four straight singles, giving Texas a 7-6 lead. Before the game, Torre said he would avoid using Proctor "at all costs" on Wednesday, but he had little choice in that situation.

"Proctor deserves a merit of honor here," Torre said. "He told [pitching coach Ron Guidry] he could get a couple of outs; he had one ball hit hard off him. He gave us a valiant try there."

Chacon came in and worked his magic act, making a quick grab on Brad Wilkerson's liner back to the mound. Chacon spun toward third to see if he could double Mark Teixeira off the base, then turned toward second, where Hank Blalock was returning to that base. Chacon looked at first and threw to Phillips, beating Jerry Hairston to the base to complete his unlikely double play.

"I stuck my glove out and it was there," Chacon said. "My feet did the rest."

Otsuka came in for the save opportunity, but Jeter singled, setting up Giambi's two-run blast to right field, his 29th of the season. The Yankees headed into their off-day on the highest of highs, turning a potentially disastrous road trip into a very positive one.

"We've been pretty good at putting that stuff behind us," Jeter said of the 1-3 series in Toronto. "We basically forgot about Toronto when we got here. It says a lot about our team to forget about how poorly we played, turn it around and sweep this team."

"I feel like we robbed a bank today," A-Rod said as he headed out of the clubhouse. "Twice."


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