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Yankees Defeat Rangers 6-5 in Opener of AL Championship Series

The New York Yankees rallied from a five-run deficit, scoring five times in the eighth inning to defeat the Texas Rangers 6-5 in the opening game of their American League Championship Series.

Alex Rodriguez had a two-run single, Derek Jeter hit a run-scoring double and Robinson Cano and Marcus Thames added RBI singles in New York’s eighth-inning outburst last night.

Josh Hamilton’s three-run home run in the first inning and Michael Young’s two-run double in the fourth had staked the Rangers to a 5-0 lead and left them six outs from getting the first home postseason win in club history.

“It’s a great win for our club,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said in a news conference. “It’s a huge win.”

The Rangers, cheered on by former President George W. Bush, now have an 0-7 record at home in the postseason and a 10-game playoff losing streak to the Yankees -- who defeated Texas in the AL postseason in 1996, 1998 and 1999.

“It didn’t happen tonight,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said in a news conference. “I don’t know if we gave it away. I guess in a sense it got away from us.”

Game 2 in the best-of-seven series is today at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas, with Phil Hughes pitching for the Yankees and Colby Lewis scheduled to start for Texas.

The National League Championship Series opens tonight in Philadelphia with a highly anticipated pitching matchup. The Phillies will start Roy Halladay, who pitched a no-hitter in the divisional sweep of the Cincinnati Reds, against two-time reigning Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants.

Elvis Andrus led off the Texas first with a walk, and Young singled. Hamilton then hit his first postseason home run to right field off CC Sabathia, who lasted four innings for New York.

Hamilton’s Hitting

Hamilton, 29, led the American League in batting with a .359 average this season, and hit 32 home runs and drove in 100 runs during the regular season even after missing 24 games in September with two broken ribs. He struggled in the AL Division Series against Tampa Bay, going 2-for-18 with six strikeouts.

Young’s double made it 5-0, and the score stayed that way until Cano hit a home run leading off the Yankees’ seventh inning. In the eighth, the Yankees had five hits off five Texas pitchers.

Brett Gardner led off with an infield single, diving head first into first base, and Jeter followed with an RBI double that knocked starting pitcher C.J. Wilson out of the game. Darren Oliver relieved, walking the only two batters he faced to load the bases. Rodriguez greeted reliever Darren O’Day with a single to make it 5-4. Clay Rapada came in to pitch, and Cano tied the game with a single. Reliever Derek Holland then allowed a tiebreaking single by Thames.

‘Five Big Runs’

“The first seven innings didn’t go too well for us,” Gardner said in a television interview. “We were able to come back and get five big runs in the eighth inning.”

Kerry Wood pitched the eighth for New York and Mariano Rivera pitched a scoreless ninth for his record-extending 42nd postseason save.

Bush, who was the Rangers’ managing general partner from 1989 to 1994, sat next to Rangers President Nolan Ryan behind home plate.

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