Now, the right-hander wants to prove that he can also be a factor in the pennant race. Chamberlain and the Yankees' bullpen wobbled in the late innings on Thursday, suffering a 10-6 loss as the Rangers avoided a four-game sweep.
"To come back is one thing; that's the first step in this whole process," Chamberlain said. "To get back to where I want to be is obviously where I want to be, and it's going to take work. It's not easy up here."
Chamberlain allowed Craig Gentry's go-ahead two-run single as part of Texas' three-run seventh inning, and the Yankees' bullpen coughed up six runs over the final three frames. The loss went to Boone Logan, who allowed David Murphy's game-tying double in the seventh.
"It's going to happen," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Our guys aren't going to be perfect down there. It was nice that our guys kept fighting and tried to get back in the game. Unfortunately, it didn't happen today."
Girardi said that he has been cautious in using Chamberlain, who is coming back from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow and an open dislocation of his right ankle. The manager acknowledged that Chamberlain -- who has allowed six runs in six innings for a 9.00 ERA -- is battling inconsistency in his delivery.
"We said all along when we brought him up that we thought he'd be a factor by the time September rolled around and he got innings under his belt," Girardi said. "Sometimes, it takes time."
Texas' late rally followed New York's five-run sixth inning against Rangers starter Derek Holland, as Andruw Jones tied the game at 4 with a long two-run homer to left and Russell Martin briefly gave the Yankees the lead with a run-scoring single to center.
Derek Jeter extended his hitting streak to 12 games with an RBI single and Nick Swisher also had a run-scoring single in the sixth off Holland, who was hurt by Mike Olt's error on Casey McGehee's line drive to right field with two outs.
"He was pitching tough; he was pitching almost like [Tampa Bay's David] Price," Jones said. "He was throwing hard fastballs, hard sliders. He was coming in on us a lot. When he made mistakes, we took advantage of it."
Holland finished allowing five runs (four earned) in 5 2/3 innings. The Yankees trimmed the deficit to one run in the seventh, as Mark Teixeira brought home a sixth run with a fielder's choice, but Jones struck out facing Michael Kirkman to leave two runners aboard.
Chamberlain allowed Texas to tack on two insurance runs in the eighth, as Elvis Andrus -- who advanced to third on a leadoff double that was bobbled by Swisher in right -- scored on a sac fly and Geovany Soto added an RBI single.
"Physically, I know I'm there," Chamberlain said. "I know my arm's there, the velocity's there, the stuff's there. I've seen it. So it's mentally just getting through the fact that you know you can do this; you've overcome a lot already. I just need to continue to grow."
Yankees right-hander Ivan Nova permitted four runs and seven hits over 5 2/3 innings, settling for a no-decision, and he said he has been frustrated by his season thus far.
"It has been tough this year," said Nova, who won 16 games last season. "A lot of people are expecting more from me, and I'm not happy with what I'm doing."
The Rangers put up two runs in the first on Adrian Beltre's soft bloop to center field. Nova pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the third but tweaked his groin on Gentry's fourth-inning grounder back to the mound, walking gingerly off the field.
Girardi said that Nova's next start is not in jeopardy, and Nova did not seem concerned by the injury; perhaps more importantly, Nova also said he wasn't worried that his spot in a potential postseason rotation could be in danger.
"If my manager still has confidence in me, he's going to put me in the postseason, no matter if I throw good this month, or the next month," Nova said. "If he feels that way, he's going to put me in the rotation in the postseason."
Texas added a run off Nova in the sixth, helped by the sun in left field, as Jones lost Josh Hamilton's fly ball and fell to the ground as the ball bounced over the wall for a ground-rule double. After a hit-by-pitch, Hamilton scored on Murphy's RBI single to center.
"Around that time of the game, the sun is not going to move from that spot," Jones said. "You can make plays, but he hit it perfect -- right into the sun. There's nothing I can do."
The Yankees still came away with three victories from the showdown with the American League West-leading Rangers and own a 1 1/2-game lead over Texas for the best record in the Junior Circuit.
"You can't rest on what's happened the past four days; you have to plug along here, because we're still in a race," Girardi said. "I do like the way that we played, and let's hope it carries over to this weekend."