Rangers Keep Postseason Hopes Alive

Friday, September 24th 2004, 6:35 am
By: News On 6

The Texas Rangers got the sweep they needed against Oakland's ``Big Three'' to keep their postseason hopes alive.

David Dellucci hit a two-out, two-run double past a diving Jermaine Dye in the ninth inning to cap a three-run rally and give Texas a 5-4 victory over the Athletics on Thursday night.

The Rangers won their fifth straight and moved into a tie with Anaheim Angels, two games behind Oakland in the AL West with 10 games to play.

Brian Jordan hustled around from first base and slid headfirst into home with the winning run, kicking off a celebration among the Rangers.

``We knew we had to (sweep),'' Jordan said. ``It definitely does a lot for our confidence.''

Texas picked up victories over Oakland aces Mark Mulder, Barry Zito and Thursday's starter Tim Hudson. It was the 22nd time the ``Big Three'' started in the same three-game series. Only twice before _ against the Yankees in New York _ had the A's been swept.

Dellucci's hit was also a rarity. The outfielder hadn't played in the first two games of the series because of a 5-for-40 slump. He was 0-for-4 Thursday before his game-winning double off Oakland closer Octavio Dotel (4-2).

``I went from frustration to elation,'' he said.

In other games, it was: New York 7, Tampa Bay 3; Baltimore 9, Boston 7; Chicago 7, Kansas City 6; and Cleveland 9, Minnesota 7.

In Arlington, before Dellucci's winner, Hank Blalock hit his 32nd solo homer with one out, Michael Young doubled for his fourth hit and Mark Teixeira was intentionally walked, his team-record fifth walk of the game. Jordan reached on a forceout.

``We never predict if we will win or lose. We always play to the end of the game,'' Young said. ``That's a huge strength of this club.''

Texas now hosts last-place Seattle for three games while the A's and Angels face off in Anaheim.

``We're still in pretty good position. I'd rather be two games up than two games back,'' said Hudson, who held Texas to two runs over seven innings. ``We lost a tough one, it's going to happen. ... We've played the whole year for 10 games.''

Mark Kotsay and Adam Melhuse homered off Texas starter Chan Ho Park, and Bobby Crosby gave the A's a 4-2 lead in the ninth with a solo shot off Jeff Nelson (1-2).

Yankees 7, Devil Rays 3

At New York, Derek Jeter hit a leadoff home run, Jon Lieber pitched into the eighth inning and the Yankees clinched their 10th consecutive playoff berth.

John Flaherty also homered for the Yankees, who move 4 1/2 games ahead of the Red Sox in the AL East. The Yankees go to Boston for a three-game series this weekend.

Lieber (13-8) allowed three runs and 11 hits in 7 1-3 innings. Todd Ritchie (0-2) took the loss.

Orioles 9, Red Sox 7

At Boston, David Ortiz flew out to the warning track with runners on first and second for the final out, dropping Boston 4 1/2 games behind the Yankees.

With the Red Sox trailing 9-5 in the ninth, Manny Ramirez hit a two-run single with the bases loaded before Ortiz flew out.

Miguel Tejada hit a three-run homer and Todd Williams (2-0) pitched a perfect seventh.

Ramiro Mendoza (1-1) got just one out and allowed two runs.

White Sox 7, Royals 6

In Chicago, Joe Crede hit a game-winning three-run shot in the ninth off Jeremy Affeldt (3-4).

Crede also homered in the eighth, and Aaron Rowand and Ross Gload also went deep for the White Sox.

Damaso Marte (6-5) pitched a scoreless ninth.

Indians 9, Twins 7

At Cleveland, Cliff Lee won for the second time since July 16 and rookie Grady Sizemore hit a two-run homer.

Lee (12-8) made it through 5 2-3 innings, allowing five runs and eight hits.

Josh Bard homered and had three RBIs, and Coco Crisp drove in two runs for Cleveland.

Minnesota rookie J.D. Durbin (0-1) didn't make it out of the fourth inning of his first career start. The Twins have lost three in a row since qualifying for the postseason.