Mussina leads Yankees to split with Rangers

Mike Mussina is on a roll, and the New York Yankees hope they’re starting to join him.

Mussina pitched seven sharp innings for his 15th win and the Yankees beat the Texas Rangers 3-0 on Thursday night to gain a four-game split.

Mussina (15-7) shut down the highest-scoring offense in the majors, matching Cleveland’s Cliff Lee for most wins in the American League. Mariano Rivera pitched a perfect ninth for his career-best 28th consecutive save this season.

It was Mussina’s fifth victory in seven starts. The 39-year-old right-hander gave up eight hits, struck out six and stayed unbeaten in his last seven road outings.

Derek Jeter had three hits and drove in two runs, including a solo homer in the first.

The Yankees won for the second consecutive night and moved within three games of idle Boston in the AL wild-card race, while the Rangers dropped to 3 1/2 games behind New York.

The Yankees have sputtered in trying to find a rhythm as of late, and had lost seven of 10 after dropping the first two games of this series. But they have now won four of six as they begin a three-game series at the Los Angeles Angels on Friday.

Behind Mussina’s gem, the Yankees became only the second team to shut out Texas this season. He fanned sluggers Michael Young and Josh Hamilton twice, closed three innings with strikeouts and ended three others on double plays.

The Rangers entered the game with a major league-best 651 runs and led in most offensive categories, including hits and extra bases.

But the lineup didn’t help Scott Feldman (4-5), who also pitched well but couldn’t keep pace with Mussina. He lasted seven innings, allowing seven hits and striking out four.

Johnny Damon had a run-scoring single in the fifth, and Robinson Cano had three hits.

Alex Rodriguez, booed again in his latest return to Texas, went hitless for the fourth straight night and finished the series 0-for-14.

Jeter put the Yankees ahead by connecting on Feldman’s second pitch. Jeter served as the designated hitter after manager Joe Girardi decided his shortstop needed a rest, in part, from the scorching Texas heat.

The Yankees left town with a 2-2 start to their 10-game road swing. Since coming to Texas on Monday, they have lost pitcher Joba Chamberlain to the 15-day disabled list and had a close call with newly acquired catcher Ivan Rodriguez.

Chamberlain’s timetable for a return is murky after he was diagnosed with rotator cuff tendinitis in his right shoulder.

Rodriguez is expected back in the lineup Friday after bruising his right knee in a collision at home plate Wednesday with Rangers outfielder David Murphy. The Texas rookie got the worst of the crash and is expected to miss two to four weeks.

Marlon Byrd went 3-for-4 and had two doubles for the Rangers.


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