Efficient Yanks down Rangers

Efficient Yanks down Rangers

ARLINGTON -- For the second night in a row, the Yankees used a combination of solid starting pitching, timely hitting and a strong bullpen to defeat the Rangers, putting their morbid weekend in Toronto even further behind them.

Despite collecting just four hits on the night, New York took a 7-4 victory against Texas, improving to 5-0 at Ameriquest Field this season. Mike Mussina pitched six quality innings, earning his team-leading 12th win of the season.

"You don't expect to get four hits and get seven runs," Mussina said. "Our guys did what we usually do when we're successful; we made them work and throw a lot of pitches. That's efficient hitting for only four hits."

The Yankees put on a clinic in two-out hitting -- or two-out walking, as the case may be -- by scoring six runs with two outs. New York plated three of those runs in the fourth with just one hit, while Aaron Guiel added three more with a home run in the fifth. Miguel Cairo also knocked in a pair of runs for the Yankees.

"That's what the role players are all about," manager Joe Torre said. "A lot of people really don't pay attention to them, but for a manager, it's nice to plug people in that know what they're doing. They're not going to carry a team, but they'll make very important contributions."

New York moved within a half-game of Chicago in the American League Wild Card race and remained 2 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East.

Texas took a 2-0 lead with runs in the first and third against Mussina, as Adam Eaton held the Yankees hitless through the first three innings.

Eaton, starting for the first time this season after tearing a tendon in his right middle finger in Spring Training, quickly retired the first two batters in the fourth. But his command inexplicably left him after that, as he walked two batters and hit another to load the bases.

Andy Phillips followed with another walk, forcing Alex Rodriguez home for the Yankees' first run. Phillips, who is mired in an 0-for-18 skid at the plate, impressed Torre with his plate discipline.

"There have been times when it's been really difficult to be patient, when I feel like I'm swinging at everything," Phillips said. "Tonight, I felt the swings I was putting on the ball were good swings, and that allowed me to be more patient. I was seeing the ball much better."

Cairo's infield single found a hole in the middle of the field, scoring Jorge Posada and Guiel to give New York a 3-2 lead.

"It was a huge inning for us," Torre said. "Phillips had a great at-bat, walking with the bases loaded, and Cairo, even though it didn't get out of the infield, he hit it up the middle where nobody could get to it."

Mussina sat the Rangers down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the fourth, sending the offense back to work. Guiel rewarded Mussina with a three-run homer against Ron Mahay, his sixth of the season and second in two days.

"When you score runs, you want to go out there and put up a zero, do the best you can to put your team back in there right away," Mussina said. "Guiel has two homers in two days, the other guys are getting on base and making the other side work. This is just an example of needing all 25 guys on the roster."

Mussina gave a run back in the fifth on Rod Barajas' solo homer, but he pitched through the sixth, leaving with a 6-3 lead. He was charged with three runs on five hits and two walks, striking out four.

"Overall, it wasn't the easiest day," Mussina said. "It was a lot of work, I got myself in some trouble a couple of times, but for the most part, I'm satisfied with it."

"Typical Mussina is all you can say," Rangers shortstop Michael Young said. "Typical Mussina doesn't bode well for the other team."

Ron Villone allowed a run in the seventh without recording an out, so Torre called on Scott Proctor with men on second and third and no outs.

Proctor, who has not allowed a run in his last six outings, got three straight outs, allowing one of the runners to score on Young's sac fly. Proctor, who also pitched the eighth, retired all six batters he faced.

"In that situation, you're trying to keep the game where it's at or as close to it as you can," Proctor said. "You want to pick up your teammates. It's a long season, but now is what we call 'Moneyball.' We're paid to get the guys out."

"You can't say enough about Scott Proctor," Torre said. "He's out there with a great presence. He came in with second and third and nobody out tonight and gave up a sacrifice fly; it was tremendous for us."

Mariano Rivera closed out the game with a scoreless ninth, notching his 24th save of the season.

Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.