Staring down Yankees slugger Gary Sanchez in the ninth inning, Matt Bush looked the part of a poised closer, even if the Texas Rangers right-hander hasn't felt it this week. Not after blowing saves on Monday and Friday.
Telling himself to breathe deep, Bush struck out Sanchez, stopping New York's charge from a seven-run deficit and giving the Rangers a 7-6 victory Sunday.
"That should be a huge confidence builder for him," manager Jeff Banister said.
Bush, a former top-overall draft pick as a shortstop who has salvaged a career following a prison sentence for drunk driving, has felt the weight of his recent struggles. After blowing a save last Monday against Toronto, Bush gave up a tying homer to New York's Brett Gardner on Friday in a 2-1, 10-inning loss.
"It's very tough," Bush said. "You think about all kinds of stuff. You think about, `Am I going to be able to support my fianc�e? Am I going to be able to continue to play this game?"'
Bush got Sanchez swinging Sunday at a curveball in the dirt with Aaron Judge at first base, completing his ninth save. The closer said he was just trying to keep his mind in the right place on the Yankee Stadium mound.
"Look these hitters in the eye, let them know I'm coming right after them," Bush said.
Adrian Beltre, Shin-Soo Choo and Drew Robinson each homered off starter Michael Pineda to build the Rangers' big lead.
Robinson's solo shot was his first major league hit and put Texas up 7-0 in the fourth inning. The Rangers improved to 11-5 over their past 16 games.
New York rallied behind homers from Sanchez and Ronald Torreyes.
In the seventh inning, New York's Didi Gregorius lofted what would have been a go-ahead three-run homer down the right field line, but the ball was foul by about a foot.
Gregorius then singled off Alex Claudio to drive in a run and make it 7-6, but Sanchez was thrown out at third to end the inning.
"That was a mistake on my part," Sanchez said. "I shouldn't be the last out at third base. I kept going and thought I had a chance. I didn't."
Pineda (7-4) gave up seven runs in four innings, and the Yankees lost for the 10th time in 12 games since reaching a season-high 15 games over .500.
Nick Martinez (3-3) gave up four runs in five innings, including a three-run homer to Sanchez.
Judge had two hits and two walks.
BEATEN AND BRUISED
Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks will go on the disabled list after injuring his ribcage on the right side during a check swing in the first inning. He was removed from the game before the fifth inning.
"They said the process is about three to four weeks," Hicks said. "I'll do my best to get it done before that."
Manager Joe Girardi said the Yankees might activate outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury from the DL on Monday. Ellsbury has been out since May 24 with a concussion but played his second minor league rehab game with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Sunday.
New York was also without second baseman Starlin Castro, who got a shot in his wrist Saturday. Manager Joe Girardi said the wrist has bothered Castro for six weeks, but added that it's "not a serious injury."
"We said, let's get (the shot) because you'll get more than 24 hours (rest) in a sense, going from a day game to a night game," Girardi said.
OLD TIME'S SAKE
Jorge Posada, Tim Raines and 31 other former New York players gathered before the game for the 71st Old Timers' Day at Yankee Stadium. It was Posada's first go as an Old Timer after retiring following the 2011 season. The catcher called it "strange" to put on his gear again.
Raines was honored by New York ahead of his Hall of Fame induction next month. Former manager Joe Torre presented the speedy left fielder with a pair of seats from old Yankee Stadium, where Raines helped New York win championships in 1996 and '98.
Rangers: OF Nomar Mazara was out of the lineup with a bruised right forearm. ... Slugger Joey Gallo sat for the second day in a row with a sore hamstring.
Yankees: OF Matt Holliday was held out of the lineup due to issues stemming from an allergic reaction he had in Oakland on June 17. Manager Joe Girardi said Holliday may go for more tests, although he was hoping to have the slugger back Monday. ... LHP CC Sabathia threw a 35-pitch bullpen, his first since going on the disabled list June 15 with a left hamstring strain. ... 1B Greg Bird ran on the field before the game, his first time running since a setback to his right ankle injury during a minor league rehab stint.
Rangers: LHP Cole Hamels is set to return from the DL in a start against RHP Carlos Carrasco (8-3, 2.99) and the Cleveland Indians. Hamels (2-0, 3.03) has been out for eight weeks with a strained oblique muscle.
Yankees: LHP Jordan Montgomery (5-4, 3.74) pitches the opener in a four-game road set with the Chicago White Sox. LHP David Holmberg (1-1, 2.84) is set to pitch for Texas.