ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Hank Blalock was glad to know he was
going to knock in the tying run with his hard hit toward the gap.
The Texas Rangers third baseman felt even better when the ball hit
the top of the fence -- and went over.
Blalock's two-out, two-run homer in the eighth inning dropped
into the Texas bullpen, giving the Rangers a 2-1 win over the New
York Yankees on Tuesday night."It was a breaking ball. I just reacted to it and hit it,"
Blalock said. "Off my bat, I was glad I could drive the tying run
in. Then it bounced off the top of the fence."David Dellucci and Michael Young started the eighth with
consecutive singles off Wayne Franklin (0-1) before Mark Teixeira
grounded into a double play. Blalock then hit a breaking ball for
his 19th homer, the major league-leading 157th for the Rangers.Tanyon Sturtze was unavailable after pitching 2 1/3 innings
Monday, and the Yankees were saving Tom Gordon as their closer
because Mariano Rivera had pitched four of the previous five days.
That left Yankees manager Joe Torre with no reliable options."It wasn't a bad outing for Franklin, but it was a bad pitch,"
Torre said. "He'd gotten three ground balls in a row, but he left
a breaking ball up."Texas manager Buck Showalter joked that the pitchers sitting in
the bullpen had their feet on the fence pushing forward as
Blalock's ball came toward them. It was that close.New York lost for only the third time in 14 games and dropped a
half-game behind Boston in the AL East, one day after taking sole
possession of first place for the first time since a season-opening
victory over the Red Sox.The Rangers had lost four of its previous five games, including
consecutive one-run losses.A night after the Yankees won 11-10 in the opener of the series
matching two of the three highest-scoring teams in the major
leagues, pitching and defense dominated."It was a funny win tonight," Showalter said. "It's hard to
believe they were the same teams out there."The Yankees, who lead the majors with 511 runs, got their only
run in the eighth off Chan Ho Park. Bubba Crosby drew a leadoff
walk, moved up on Derek Jeter's sacrifice bunt and came around on
Robinson Cano's single.Mike Mussina pitched six shutout innings without getting his
10th win, leaving with the game scoreless after throwing 109
pitches. Park struck out five, but allowed six hits and three walks
while hitting two other batters over 109 pitches through 7 1/3
innings.Kameron Loe (4-2) got two outs in the eighth, and Francisco
Cordero worked the ninth for his 22nd save in 27 chances, getting
pinch-hitter Tino Martinez to fly out with two on.Mussina struck out seven while allowing four singles and three
walks in the right-hander's 29th career start against the Rangers."I came in after the sixth and [Torre] said that's good
enough," Mussina said. "I still felt pretty good. I looked at him
kind of funny. But Joe said 109 pitches was enough, so I didn't get
an option. It wasn't up to debate."After allowing two runners against the first three hitters,
Mussina faced the minimum 11 batters over the next 3 2/3 innings.
Two runners reached during that stretch, but both were caught
stealing by catcher Jorge Posada.Kevin Mench and Richard Hidalgo had consecutive singles to start
the fifth, but Mussina got the next three batters out.Felix Rodriguez, activated from the disabled list earlier
Tuesday after missing 55 games recovering from left knee surgery,
pitched the seventh for New York.Park benefited from three double plays in a span of four
innings, the most crucial being the last one in the sixth with
runners at first and third.Young snagged Alex Rodriguez's grounder to shortstop to start an
inning-ending double play. On the previous play, Young made a
diving stop on Gary Sheffield's ball up the middle to force Cano,
who had reached on a one-out double, to hold at third base.Alfonso Soriano fielded Jeter's grounder near second base to
start an inning-ending double play in the third. Two innings later,
Soriano tagged Posada running in front of him before turning a full
circle and throwing to first.
Soriano had 11 stolen bases without getting caught until
the Yankees series. He was tagged out sliding into the second base
Tuesday, a night after he beat Posada's throw on another attempt
only to overslide the base. ... Jeter took extra BP before
Tuesday's game. He went 0-for-3 and has just two hits his last 23
at-bats, dropping his average to .296. ... Jason Giambi was thrown
out at second base trying to stretch a second-inning hit. Giambi
rounded the base at the same time center fielder Gary Matthews Jr.
was picking up the ball, but kept running anyway.