NEW YORK (AP) – Rangers manager Ron Washington was comfortable with the matchup. It just didn’t work out in his favor.
Eric Chavez, filling in for an ailing Alex Rodriguez, singled home the tiebreaking run off left-hander Arthur Rhodes in the eighth inning and the New York Yankees hit three homers off previously untouchable Alexi Ogando to beat Texas 6-5 on Sunday night.
“We played these guys pretty tough. We’ve got nothing to hang our heads about,” Washington said. “We keep playing like that, we’re going to win a lot of ballgames.”
Robinson Cano, Russell Martin and Curtis Granderson all went deep to help the Yankees take two of three in an early rematch of last year’s AL championship series, which Texas won in six games to capture its first pennant.
Adrian Beltre homered, doubled and drove in four runs for the Rangers, who have dropped four of five since opening the season 9-1. Missing injured AL MVP Josh Hamilton, they begin a 10-game homestand Monday night with a three-game series against the division-rival Angels.
“Bring it on,” Washington said.
Mark Teixeira drew a one-out walk from Rhodes (0-1) in the eighth and Nick Swisher singled with two outs. Chavez, in a lefty-on-lefty matchup, lined a single up the middle and Teixeira scored with a slide ahead of the looping throw from center fielder Julio Borbon.
“Arthur was the right guy,” Washington said. “You’ve got to give credit to Eric Chavez.”
Chavez is 7 for 15 (.467) with three RBIs in his first season with the Yankees.
“It was a good pitch, man. It was down and away,” Rhodes said. “You’ve got to tip your hat to the guy when you make a good pitch and he hits it. That was it.”
Rafael Soriano (1-0) pitched scoreless eighth for his first win with New York and Mariano Rivera got three quick outs for his seventh save in seven chances.
All three Yankees homers came off Ogando, who allowed just four hits over 13 shutout innings in his previous two starts this season. New York leads the majors with 27 home runs, a club record through 14 games.
Ogando gave up five runs and six hits in 6 1-3 innings. Going into the game, he had allowed two regular-season homers in 54 2-3 career innings.
“He just got it up to them and they hit it,” Washington said. “Couldn’t go through the whole season without giving up something. The most important thing is, he kept us in the ballgame.”
Rodriguez sat out because of stiffness in his lower back and side, but the Yankees flashed plenty of power at the plate in a back-and-forth game that went on uninterrupted through a pair of showers.
In the fourth, bright lightning streaked across the sky and booming thunder clapped as fans scurried for cover from the rain on a 57-degree night.
Joba Chamberlain relieved Yankees ace CC Sabathia in the seventh and immediately walked Ian Kinsler on four pitches. With two outs, Michael Young doubled over Swisher’s head in right to tie it at 5. Chamberlain retired Beltre on a comebacker to end the inning.
In the sixth, Derek Jeter hit a leadoff single and Granderson pulled a 1-1 pitch just inside the right-field foul pole. Jeter leaned left to give it some body english and when the drive stayed fair, New York had a 5-4 lead.
Granderson also homered off Ogando in Game 5 of the ALCS last year, the only run that the skinny, long-limbed right-hander allowed in five postseason relief appearances.
A converted outfielder, the 27-year-old Ogando excelled out of the bullpen last season and was only shifted to the starting rotation when Tommy Hunter strained his groin during the final week of spring training.
Beltre hit a two-run shot on a high fastball in the first inning and an RBI single in the fourth, both with two strikes. His run-scoring double in the sixth put Texas up 4-3.
Moments after right fielder Nelson Cruz made a diving catch of Jorge Posada’s shallow fly, Martin turned on a 94 mph fastball and sent it into the left-field stands for his fourth homer. He hit five in 97 games last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Texas came right back with Young’s leadoff single in the sixth and the RBI double by Beltre, who began the night 3 for 22 (.136) against Sabathia with seven strikeouts.
“A day like this I’ll take it against CC because he’s been really tough on me throughout my career,” Beltre said.
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