ARLINGTON, Texas – Jason Giambi hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning and the New York Yankees beat the Texas Rangers 8-7 on Wednesday night to complete another three-game sweep and gain ground in the AL East.

After the Rangers scored four times in the eighth to go ahead 7-6, Derek Jeter led off the ninth with a single up the middle against closer Akinori Otsuka (2-4). Giambi followed with his 29th homer, a towering shot that landed in the seats in right.

New York (59-40) completed a six-game season sweep at Texas and got within 11/2 games of first-place Boston in the AL East. The Red Sox lost 5-1 at Oakland earlier Wednesday. The Yankees also moved a half-game ahead of Minnesota and the Chicago White Sox in the wild card chase.

It was the first time since 1992 that Texas was swept at home in a season series of at least six games. That had never happened at Ameriquest Field, which opened in 1994 and where the Rangers played their 999th game Wednesday.

Shawn Chacon (5-3) got three outs facing two batters in the eighth. Mariano Rivera worked the ninth for his 25th save in 27 chances.

The Yankees went ahead 6-4 with four runs in the eighth. Alex Rodriguez led off the inning with his 22nd homer.

Rodriguez hit a full-count pitch from Francisco Cordero onto the hill in center field – a 417-foot shot. The Yankees still trailed 3-2, but were just getting started.

Bernie Williams walked and Andy Phillips, whose two-run single in the first snapped an 0-for-18 slump, had another hit before Melky Cabrera’s two-run double made it 5-4. Cabrera advanced on a sacrifice bunt by newly acquired catcher Sal Fasano – the first out – before scoring on a wild pitch.

It was the ninth blown save of the season for Cordero, who lost his job as the Rangers closer after setting a major league record with five blown saves in April. Otsuka has converted 22 of 24 save chances before Wednesday night.

Kevin Mench drove in three runs with a milestone two-run double for Texas and a sacrifice fly. Mark Teixeira and Hank Blalock both had three hits.

Blalock’s RBI single in the eighth off Scott Proctor made it 7-6, driving in Michael Young, whose two-run single on the first pitch against the reliever had tied the game at 6.

The first six Texas batters in the eighth reached base before Chacon, the third pitcher in the inning struck out Mark DeRosa, the first batter he faced. Brad Wilkerson then lined into a double play.

Mench’s two-run double in the second tied the game and was the 50,000th hit in the Rangers’ 35-season history. That was set up after Teixeira had a leadoff walk and Blalock singled off Yankees starter Jaret Wright.

After Teixeira started the fourth with a single, Blalock drove him home with a double and went to third on a passed ball by Fasano before the sacrifice fly by Mench.

Yankees center fielder Johnny Damon, who missed the first two games of the series with a stiff back, led off against John Rheinecker with a single, but was thrown out trying to score on Rodriguez’s grounder to third. Williams loaded the bases with a two-out single before Phillips’ two-run single.

Rheinecker, the rookie left-hander whose spot in the rotation is in jeopardy with the return of Adam Eaton, allowed nine hits over 4 1-3 innings.

Notes: The Rangers have a day off Thursday, their first after playing 14 straight games since the All-Star break. They then play 17 days in a row, including a 10-day road trip. … The Yankees had four hits in the first inning, matching their total in a 7-4 victory Tuesday night.

AP-ES-07-26-06 2328EDT



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