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Yankees-Rangers Preview

5/2/2007

The New York Yankees are coming off one of their best all-around performances of the season, but still are plagued by the injury woes that have helped send them to the bottom of the AL East.

A day after losing yet another starting pitcher, the nine-time defending division champs try to clinch their first series win in nearly two weeks when they continue their three-game road set with the Texas Rangers.

New York (10-14) tied its season highs in runs, hits (14) and margin of victory Tuesday, beating the Rangers 10-1. It was just the second win in 10 games for the Yankees, who moved within 5 1/2 games of first-place Boston in the AL East but still are percentage points behind the Devil Rays in the division cellar.

Robinson Cano went 4-for-5 with three RBIs and two doubles, Derek Jeter extended his hitting streak to 18 games and Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui each drove in two runs for New York. Phil Hughes, Mike Myers and Luis Vizcaino combined to hold the Rangers (10-16) to two hits, but the outcome was bittersweet.

Hughes was working on a no-hitter in the seventh inning of his second major league start when he left with a hamstring injury. The 20-year-old right-hander, who had been called up from Triple-A Scranton to fill a spot in the injury-riddled rotation, heard a pop and is now expected to miss four to six weeks.

"Just one of those freak things that you certainly can't explain," said Yankees manager Joe Torre, whose team snapped a six-game road skid.

Hughes is expected to join fellow starters Mike Mussina (hamstring), Carl Pavano (forearm) and Jeff Karstens (broken right leg) on the disabled list.

Andy Pettitte (1-1, 3.00 ERA) has managed to stay healthy and will take the mound for New York on Wednesday. The veteran left-hander is trying to rebound from his worst outing of the season, as he lasted just 4 2-3 innings in Friday's 11-4 defeat to Boston.

Pettitte gave up five runs and five walks -- both season highs -- along with six hits while striking out five. His ERA spiked from 1.78 to 3.00 on the season.

"It's as frustrating as you can get. It's embarrassing is what it is," he said. "It's a joke that I can't go out there and get through six or seven innings right there when the team needs me to do that as bad as they do."

The Yankees are just 1-4 in Pettitte's five starts. He is 8-7 with a 5.75 ERA in 17 career starts versus the Rangers, but is 0-4 in his last five outings against them.

Pettitte will be opposed by Robinson Tejeda (3-1, 3.82), who is looking to extend his unbeaten streak to four starts. The right-hander leads the Rangers in wins and is 2-0 in his last three starts, allowing seven runs in 18 2-3 innings.

"This kid has the stuff to be a pretty good starter in the major leagues," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of Tejeda. "At some point, if he continues to progress the way he is, he's going to move out of that fourth slot and start pushing his way towards the top."

Tejeda gave up three runs and five hits, including two homers, over 5 1-3 innings while striking out a season-high seven in a 5-3 win over Toronto on Friday.

He lost his only career start against the Yankees, 8-5 on May 7 of last season, when he allowed six runs and seven hits over three innings.

Texas, which is looking to avoid a season-high fourth straight loss, has been held to one run in each of its last two games. Infielders Hank Blalock and Ian Kinsler had the team's only hits Tuesday.

New York center fielder Johnny Damon, bothered by back troubles, hopes to return to the lineup after missing Tuesday's victory.