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ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — A chopper by Brett Gardner with a headfirst slide into first base, and the New York Yankees were rallying again.
"I stepped on his hand. So he was safe," Texas Rangers starter C.J. Wilson said.
Gardner's infield single leading off the eighth inning ignited a five-run outburst against Wilson and four Texas relievers to push the Yankees to a 6-5 victory in Game 1 of the AL championship series Friday night.
"All starts with a hustle play," manager Joe Girardi said.
Alex Rodriguez, who scooted home with the go-ahead run in the eighth soon after his two-run single that was nearly a double-play grounder, called Gardner's slide "the big momentum changer." It started a string of seven consecutive batters reaching base.
Just when the Texas Rangers thought they finally might get a home playoff victory, and against their old nemesis, the Yankees beat them again.
The Rangers are 0-7 in postseason home games, with five of those losses against New York. This one hurt the most, since they led 3-0 after Josh Hamilton's homer in the first inning and knocked CC Sabathia out after four innings with a 5-0 lead.
Nolan Ryan was hollering from the front row and manager Ron Washington was pumping his fist in the dugout.
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