Marcus Thames hit the go-ahead RBI single to cap a five-run eighth inning, as the New York Yankees rallied for a 6-5 win over Texas in the opener of the American League Championship Series.

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Texas, which wasted a 5-0 lead, was poised for its first-ever postseason home win and was in line to snap a nine-game postseason skid against the Yankees, but the defending World Series champs scored five times before recording an out in the big inning.

C.J. Wilson pitched into the eighth, but the first seven batters reached base against five different Texas pitchers in the fateful frame for the Rangers. It started with Brett Gardner’s head-first slide for an infield hit as Wilson couldn’t get to the bag in time for the throw from first baseman Jorge Cantu.

[photogallerylink id=33938 align=left]Thames culminated the huge frame with the go-ahead single to left field to drive in ex-Ranger Alex Rodriguez, who bounced a two-run base hit earlier in the inning.

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“We have a veteran clubhouse that knows how to react to whatever situation we are in,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “We look forward to Game 2, and I’m sure they are too. Some might feel we were fortunate to come out with a win tonight, but I thought our club played hard and kept playing and playing and playing. And you try to build on it tomorrow.”

Josh Hamilton belted a three-run homer off CC Sabathia before the southpaw could record an out, and Michael Young added a two-run double in the fourth inning for the Rangers, who are 0-7 all-time at home in the playoffs.

Pinch-hitter Mitch Moreland singled off Mariano Rivera leading off the bottom of the ninth inning and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Elvis Andrus. Young ended a long at-bat by swinging through an outside pitch for strike three. Hamilton bounced the first pitch to Rodriguez, who threw across the diamond for the final out, giving Rivera his 42nd career postseason save.

The best-of-seven series resumes Saturday afternoon at Rangers Ballpark with Phil Hughes slated to get the ball for the defending World Series champions and Colby Lewis for Texas.

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