Arlington, Texas: Eduardo Nunez hit a tying triple and Brent Lillibridge followed with a go-ahead single as the New York Yankees rallied against All-Star closer Joe Nathan in the ninth inning for a 5-4 victory over the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night.
New York’s comeback started when Vernon Wells drew a one-out walk against Nathan (1-1) and scored on Nunez’s triple to deep centre. Nunez stumbled on his way to third and practically flopped into the bag, then scored on Lillibridge’s single to left.
Nathan had converted 15 consecutive save chances, and 31 of 32 this season. Texas had been 51-0 when leading after eight innings.
Mariano Rivera, who set up Nathan’s save in the All-Star game a week earlier, struck out two in a perfect ninth for his 32nd save this season, extending his career record to 640.
Joba Chamberlain (2-0), the fourth Yankees pitcher, got help in his perfect eighth when center fielder Brett Gardner made two incredible catches — one against the wall before his running, leaping grab to end the inning.
The Rangers scored their runs in the sixth, all of them unearned after Lillibridge’s error at third base. Texas led 4-3 after Mitch Moreland greeted reliever Boone Logan with a two-run homer, his 14th.
Alexi Ogando returned from the disabled list to start for Texas and allowed three runs in five innings. Ross Wolf, Jason Frasor and Neal Cotts each had 1-2-3 innings, stretching the bullpen’s scoreless streak to 25 1-3 innings before a rare blown save by Nathan.
Nelson Cruz reached on an error by Lillibridge in the sixth before an RBI double by Adrian Beltre, who scored on a single by Elvis Andrus that chased Phil Hughes.
Hughes struck out one and walked three while giving up three runs, all unearned, in 5 2-3 innings.
It was the second night in a row Texas activated a starting pitcher off the disabled list.
Yu Darvish allowed two singles in 6 1-3 scoreless innings and combined with three relievers on a three-hit shutout Monday night. Ogando made his second start since May 15. He went on the DL twice (first for right biceps tendinitis and then with right shoulder inflammation).
New York had gone more than two games without an extra-base hit before Melky Mesa and Austin Romine - the Nos. 8-9 hitters - had consecutive doubles for a 1-0 lead before an RBI infield single by Ichiro Suzuki.
Wells hit a leadoff double in the fourth and scored on a fielder’s choice when second baseman Ian Kinsler fielded Lillibridge’s grounder and short-hopped a throw to the plate.