Chavez single boosts Yanks over Rangers
Eric Chavez has 230 home runs and a wealth of experience obtained during 13 major league seasons.
That's not a bad bat to have ready on the bench.
Chavez, filling in for an ailing Alex Rodriguez, singled home the tiebreaking run in the eighth inning and the New York Yankees hit three homers off previously untouchable Alexi Ogando to beat the Texas Rangers 6-5 on Sunday night.
''When I made the decision to come here, I knew what it was going to be. Obviously, Alex is going to play a ton of games and when I get in there I've just got to be ready to play,'' said Chavez, in his initial season with the Yankees after spending his first 13 in Oakland. ''I'm going to keep the same approach the whole year.''
Robinson Cano, Russell Martin and Curtis Granderson all went deep to help the Yankees take two of three in an early rematch of last year's AL championship series, which Texas won in six games to capture its first pennant.
Adrian Beltre homered, doubled and drove in four runs for the Rangers, who have dropped four of five since opening the season 9-1. Missing injured AL MVP Josh Hamilton, they begin a 10-game homestand Monday night with a three-game series against the AL West rival Angels.
''Bring it on,'' manager Ron Washington said.
Mark Teixeira drew a one-out walk from Arthur Rhodes (0-1) in the eighth and Nick Swisher singled with two outs. Chavez, in a lefty-on-lefty matchup, lined a single up the middle and Teixeira scored with a slide ahead of the looping throw from center fielder Julio Borbon.
''It was a good pitch, man. It was down and away,'' Rhodes said. ''You've got to tip your hat to the guy when you make a good pitch and he hits it. That was it.''
Chavez is 7 for 15 (.467) with three RBIs this season.
''Felt like we had the proper matchup with Arthur against Eric,'' Washington said. ''You've got to give Eric credit.''
Rafael Soriano (1-0) pitched scoreless eighth for his first win with the Yankees and Mariano Rivera got three quick outs for his seventh save in seven chances.
Rivera has saved or won each of New York's eight home victories this season.
All three Yankees homers came off Ogando, who allowed just four hits over 13 shutout innings in his previous two starts this season. New York leads the majors with 27 home runs, a club record through 14 games.
Ogando gave up five runs and six hits in 6 1-3 innings. Going into the game, he had allowed two regular-season homers in 54 2-3 career innings.
''He just got it up to them and they hit it,'' Washington said. ''Couldn't go through the whole season without giving up something. The most important thing is, he kept us in the ballgame.''
Rodriguez sat out because of stiffness in his lower back and side, but the Yankees flashed plenty of power at the plate in a back-and-forth game that went on uninterrupted through a pair of showers.
In the fourth, bright lightning streaked across the sky and booming thunder clapped as fans scurried for cover from the rain on a 57-degree night.
Joba Chamberlain relieved Yankees ace CC Sabathia in the seventh and immediately walked Ian Kinsler on four pitches. With two outs, Michael Young doubled over Swisher's head in right to tie it at 5. Chamberlain retired Beltre on a comebacker to end the inning.
In the sixth, Derek Jeter hit a leadoff single and Granderson pulled a 1-1 pitch just inside the right-field foul pole. Jeter leaned left to give it some body english and when the drive stayed fair, New York had a 5-4 lead.
Granderson also homered off Ogando in Game 5 of the ALCS last year, the only run that the skinny, long-limbed right-hander allowed in five postseason relief appearances.
A converted outfielder, the 27-year-old Ogando excelled out of the bullpen last season and was only shifted to the starting rotation when Tommy Hunter strained his groin during the final week of spring training.
Beltre hit a two-run shot on a high fastball in the first inning and an RBI single in the fourth, both with two strikes. His run-scoring double in the sixth put Texas up 4-3.
Moments after right fielder Nelson Cruz made a diving catch of Jorge Posada's shallow fly in the fifth, Martin turned on a 94 mph fastball and sent it into the left-field stands for his fourth homer. He hit five in 97 games last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
''I just enjoy the intensity,'' said Martin, rested Saturday for the first time this season. ''If you like intense baseball, this is the place to be. So far, I like it.''
Texas came right back with Young's leadoff single in the sixth and the RBI double by Beltre, who began the night 3 for 22 (.136) against Sabathia with seven strikeouts.
''Couldn't get him out,'' Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. ''He's the type of player that can carry a club.''
NOTES: Rangers RHP Brandon Webb (shoulder) had a 70-pitch bullpen session and is slated to throw batting practice Friday in Texas. ... Girardi dropped slumping LF Brett Gardner to ninth in the batting order. Gardner had been hitting leadoff against right-handers. ''I'm not saying this is a long-term thing. We're just trying to get him going,'' Girardi said.