NEW YORK (AP)—Chien-Ming Wang bounced a few sinkers, slipped on the mound and watched his final pitch sail far over the fence.
David Robertson took a more simple approach.
Melky Cabrera hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the eighth inning and the New York Yankees overcame yet another poor start by Wang to beat the Texas Rangers 8-6 Thursday.
The Yankees rallied from a 5-1 deficit and took two of three from the AL West leaders. Robertson threw only one pitch and wound up with the win.
“Never knew it was going to come out like that,” Robertson said. “Every now and then you’re going to catch a lucky one.”
Cabrera kept up his run of big hits and helped the Yankees win for the 17th time in 22 games. They did it despite Wang’s wobbles.
Wang returned to the rotation and produced his best start of the season. Too bad for him, it was another stinker as his sinkers were either too high or too low.
Texas tagged him for five runs and seven hits in 4 2-3 innings. Nelson Cruz chased him with a long home run—the first by a right-handed hitter off Wang in 22 starts, since Adrian Beltre connected in September 2007.
“I thought he pitched better than his numbers indicated,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
“I’m not making excuses,” he said. “I was happy with what I saw. I know people are going to say, ‘Oh boy, he gave up five runs.”’
Wang will make his next start as scheduled, Tuesday night against Boston at Fenway Park.
The former ace lost his first three starts of the season. He went on the disabled list with a 34.50 ERA because of weakness in the muscles in his hips and came back with three solid relief appearances.
Wang said he felt OK and was excited to make this start.
“It’s not the Wang I’m used to seeing,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “I’m sure he’s got some things to work on. But I thought he threw pretty well.”
It was another game of home run derby at the new Yankee Stadium. Johnny Damon started it with a leadoff shot for New York, Cruz finished Wang in the fifth with a long drive and Ian Kinsler’s solo homer for Texas in the sixth tied it at 6.
C.J. Wilson (3-3) relieved to begin the eighth and issued a leadoff walk to Robinson Cano. One out later, Cabrera launched a drive over left fielder David Murphy’s leap.
“It was a deep fly ball to short left field,” Wilson said.
Robertson (1-0) relieved with two outs and none on in the eighth and retired Elvis Andrus on a fly ball, and Cabrera delivered in the bottom half.
“He has a knack of doing it,” Girardi said.
Mariano Rivera worked the ninth for his 12th save in 13 chances. With runners at the corners, he struck out Cruz and retired Murphy on a popup to end it.
Chris Davis doubled in the third and scored when Wang slipped and skipped a wild pitch several feet short of the plate. Davis had a two-run double in the fourth and Cruz hit his 16th homer—and ninth in 15 games—for a 5-1 lead in the fifth.
After Damon homered, Texas’ Brandon McCarthy avoided further trouble until the fifth.
Francisco Cervelli and Ramiro Pena opened with soft singles, and walks to Damon and Nick Swisher forced home a run. Mark Teixeira followed with cue shot down the third-base line for a three-run double that made it 5-all, and he laughed at his good fortune while Jason Jennings trotted in from the bullpen.
“For every time you hit a ball to the warning track, for every line drive you hit that gets caught, it’s nice to get one of those,” Teixeira said. “Everyone says they equal out, but they never do.”
Alex Rodriguez greeted Jennings with a single that bounced to the right-field wall for a 6-5 lead.