ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Texas Rangers starter Colby Lewis did a bit of reminiscing when he noticed the stands filling up while he warned up in the bullpen before the game.
The veteran right-hander went out and provided a promising flashback performance against the New York Yankees, even after another leadoff homer by Brett Gardner. The Rangers clinched their first series in a month with a 3-2 victory Wednesday night.
Lewis retired the last 13 batters he faced in seven strong innings, much like the 2010 AL championship series when he beat the Yankees twice — including the Game 6 clincher at home that got Texas to its first World Series. He had since missed the last half of 2012 because of elbow surgery and missed all of 2013, when he had an unprecedented hip procedure for a major league pitcher that was just short of a full hip replacement.
"I was definitely an adjustment period getting used to a prosthetic hip, I guess," Lewis said. "As the weeks have kind of transitioned into the second half, I feel like every time I take the mound, I feel like I'm getting stronger, my mechanics are sharper."
The Rangers had lost seven consecutive series since taking two of three against Minnesota from June 27-29.
Texas went ahead to stay with three runs in the first off Hiroki Kuroda (7-7). Elvis Andrus had an RBI double and scored the tiebreaking run on a single by Adrian Beltre, who came home on Leonys Martin's single.
Lewis (7-8) allowed four hits, with four strikeouts and New York didn't have another runner after Carlos Beltran's two-out single in the third.
"He made some adjustments along the way, and he just showed his presence and his veteran presence out there," manager Ron Washington said.
Neftali Feliz pitched a perfect ninth for his third save in as many chances since reassuming the closer role after Joakim Soria was traded to Detroit a week ago.
Neal Cotts, considered a potential trade possibility before Thursday's non-waiver trading deadline, retired the top three batters in the Yankees lineup in order in the eighth.
Kuroda struck out four while allowing nine hits over seven innings.
Derek Jeter was 0 for 4 in his final game in Texas, where a pregame ceremony honoring him included a personal appearance by former President George W. Bush.
After the Yankees captain was presented a pair of boots, a video was shown of Bush and Jeter when the former president threw the first pitch before Game 3 of the 2001 World Series, just weeks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Bush then came out and presented the Yankees captain a framed signed picture of the two together that night nearly 13 years ago.
"I heard he was coming to the stadium but I didn't know he was going to come out onto the field, so that's pretty special feeling," Jeter said. "When you have a president come out and give me something to honor, That's definitely a memory I'll have for a long time and get to brag to a lot of different people."
GARDNER GOES DEEP — AGAIN: Gardner led off the game with a homer for the second straight night, after homering twice in the series-opening loss for New York. His 14 homers are already six more than his career high last year.
Yankees: Second baseman Brian Roberts got his third game off in four days. Manager Joe Girardi said the 36-year-old is dealing with general soreness. Roberts has already played in 91 games this season, after averaging only 48 games the last four seasons with Baltimore.
Rangers: Left-hander Derek Holland, who had left knee surgery after getting tripped by his dog on the stairs at his home during the offseason, made his first rehab start for Double-A Frisco. He threw two scoreless innings without allowing a hit, throwing 21 of 33 pitches for strikes with four strikeouts and two walks.
An off day Thursday for both teams. The Yankees go to Boston for the opener of a three-game series Friday night, when the Rangers start a nine-game trip with a series opener at Cleveland.
A-GAME: Rangers left fielder Jim Adduci had two hits and a couple of nice catches. Adduci made a running catch in the second, holding on after he leaped, reached out and then crashed into the wall. "There is zero thought process in that," he said.
Jeter gets presidential farewell in Texas
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Derek Jeter got a surprise presidential farewell before playing his final game in Texas, when former President George W. Bush took part in a pregame ceremony Wednesday night.
Retired Rangers All-Stars Michael Young and Ivan Rodriguez first presented Jeter a pair of cowboy boots inscribed with the New York team logo, his name and No. 2. A video was then shown of Bush at Yankee Stadium before Game 3 of the 2001 World Series.
"I did have one good reason to leave Washington for a few hours. The New York Yankees had invited me to throw out the first pitch," Bush recalled in the video. "Seven weeks after 9/11, it would send a powerful signal for the president to show up at Yankee Stadium."
Bush, recounting the story from an excerpt in his 2010 book "Decision Points," then spoke about going into an indoor batting cage to loosen his arm.
"After a few warm-up pitches, the great Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter dropped in to take some swings. We talked a little," Bush said, adding that Jeter told him to throw from the mound, "Or else they'll boo you. ... But don't bounce it. They'll boo you."
When the video ended, showing Bush throwing a strike, the former president came on the field. He gave a surprised Jeter a framed signed picture of the two together in the batting cage that night nearly 13 years ago. The photo was from the archives of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in nearby Dallas.
Rodriguez played against Jeter and was his teammate at the end of the 2008 season with the Yankees. Young, like Jeter, was also an All-Star shortstop.
"Obviously from a competitive standpoint, the guy's off the charts, a Hall of Fame player," Young said. "He stayed his entire career in one place, a very demanding place, and was basically an impact player from the day he stepped on the field."
"That wall won."
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