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Nine-run seventh vaults Yanks to win

Nine-run seventh vaults Yanks to win

NEW YORK -- One by one, like a military march, they filed into the dugout. Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter had just scored on Giambi's grand slam in the fourth inning, matching the runs the Yankees had mustered over their three-game losing streak.

And when the Rangers battled back to take a lead in the sixth, the Yankees launched a nine-run, seven-hit assault in the seventh to secure an 18-7 victory Wednesday and blunt Texas' attempt at its first sweep in New York since 2003.

Giambi sparked an offense that had been quieted by the Rangers' pitching staff, which is at the bottom of the American League, and he hoped recent comments by co-chairperson Hank Steinbrenner about the offense's troubles had something to do with the turnaround.

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"I wish," said Giambi (2-for-4, six RBIs, two runs), as the Yankees moved to 45-40 and the Rangers fell to 44-42. "Then he could yell at us every day for all I care."

With the Yankees down, 7-6, in the seventh, Giambi started the onslaught against Rangers reliever Warner Madrigal, smacking a two-run double. It would take five batters, who all scored, before the Yankees recorded their first out, an RBI groundout by Wilson Betemit.

It was as if the Yankees couldn't do anything but score runs in the seventh. Jorge Posada hit an RBI double after Giambi, rookie Brett Gardner notched his first Major League hit with an RBI single and Alex Rodriguez passed Jimmie Foxx for 14th place on the all-time home run list (535) with a three-run blast. Manager Joe Girardi hadn't seen this kind of fight in his lineup over the past few games.

"I just felt like we were going to come back," Girardi said. "It feels good, because I have a lot of belief in our guys. I know they're frustrated by it. I know they know that we're capable of doing this and we're capable of putting a good string together and being more consistent."

For the first time in a while, it was the Yankees offense that bailed out its starting pitcher.

The Yankees were ahead, 6-3, in the sixth before Sidney Ponson allowed a pair of two-run homers -- one by Milton Bradley and another by Chris Davis, who has hit three homers in just 18 at-bats since being called up last month. The seven runs allowed by Ponson, who went five innings and allowed nine hits and one walk, tied a season high.

"It's always frustrating when you give up that many runs," said Ponson, adding that his mechanics were off and the curveball on Bradley's homer was hanging. "These guys gave me six runs early, and then I go back there and give it up. It's not good at all. I'm just happy the hitters came through today and the bullpen put zeros on the board."

Ponson faced a familiar team in the Rangers, for whom he made nine starts this season before he was designated for assignment on June 6 because of off-the-field incidents.

"It's just another team," said Ponson, who was signed by the Yankees on June 27. "I've pitched against former teams before. You cannot take in your emotions and try to overdo things."

Reliever Edwar Ramirez (2-0), who threw two scoreless innings in the sixth and seventh, picked up the win. Madrigal (0-1) tallied the loss and suffered a blown save as he got just one batter out in the sixth and was tagged for six earned runs. Texas starter Luis Mendoza lasted 4 2/3 innings, yielding six runs -- one earned -- on four hits and two walks.

Gardner, who filled in for the slumping Melky Cabrera in center field, received a standing ovation after his hit, and he later stole a base and scored on Damon's RBI single.

"It meant a lot," said Gardner, who was 0-for-8 before the single. "I didn't even realize it until [first-base coach Tony Pena] said something. You know, these are the greatest fans in the world. I'm really lucky to be here playing for the greatest franchise in all of sports, and it was a great moment."

Having lost seven of their past 11 games before Wednesday's victory, the Yankees wanted to get into the win column prior to heading into a four-game series against the second-place Red Sox starting Thursday, followed by a two-game set against the first-place Rays.

"You don't want to be swept in your home ballpark," Girardi said. "It had been a while since we won here, so you wanted to turn it around. We had lost two tough games, two one-run games, and they were tough. We turned it around tonight, and it's good momentum going into [Thursday]."

Indeed, 18 runs will give you momentum. But does a push from Steinbrenner get it going, too?

"Hank was right," Girardi said. "We weren't swinging the bats. There's no doubt about it."

Willie Bans is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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