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Cruz Saves the Day



    Cruz Saves the Day

    Two aggressive first-pitch swings by Nelson Cruz gave the Texas Rangers a stirring victory. Cruz led off the 13th inning with a home run after connecting in the eighth to tie it as the Rangers beat the New York Yankees 6-5 on Friday night. Cruz ripped the first pitch from Chad Gaudin (0-4) into the Rangers' bullpen to give Texas its second win over the Yankees in six games this season. "I was just looking for something to drive in that situation," said Cruz, soaked from a beer shower by teammates following his third game-winning homer of the season. "I was just trying to be aggressive." Cruz tied it at 5 when he led off the eighth with a towering first-pitch homer to left off Joba Chamberlain.

    "It's not like he's knocking guys in from second, he's hitting solo homers, which isn't easy to do," Texas' Michael Young said. It's been an up-and-down season for Cruz, who's trying to stay healthy after three different stints on the disabled list due to hamstring strains. Despite all the missed time, he has 19 homers and 70 RBIs. The teams combined to use an American League-record 19 pitchers, one shy of the major league mark set by the Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies on Sept. 30, 2006.

    The game, which lasted 5 hours, 12 minutes before a near-sellout crowd, was a possible playoff preview. "We stood up there tonight, went toe-to-toe with those guys and got the win," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "It was important for those guys in that clubhouse to know we're capable, especially after we were down 4-1."  Texas maintained its 7½-game lead over Oakland in the AL West. The A's beat Boston 5-0