NEW YORK -- Nobody could be sure what to expect as Freddy Garcia walked to the mound on a raw, rainy afternoon at Yankee Stadium. Rest turned the veteran into a wild card, having not started in 18 days.
But Garcia gave the Yankees much more than they could have asked for, logging his first victory by spinning six scoreless innings in New York's 5-2 win over the Rangers on Saturday.
"I didn't know what was going to happen," Garcia said, "but I'll find a way to make it happen, and that's what I did."
Mark Teixeira homered and drove in three runs, and Robinson Cano clanged a two-run shot off the foul pole late as the Yankees' big bats continue to ride the long ball to victories.
New York has hit 24 home runs as a club in their first 13 games, matching a franchise record set in 1932 and 2003 for their most round-trippers through that many contests to open a campaign.
The setting made scoring early runs more urgent than usual. Rain threatened to interrupt the game all afternoon on the type of uncomfortable day when pitchers often hold a significant advantage.
"You start thinking about being out there for three hours and nine innings," Teixeira said. "It was really a miserable day. You just try to score some runs, but obviously it was a rough day all over."
The Yankees survived a soggy outing by setup man Rafael Soriano, who allowed two runs in the eighth inning but induced a double-play grounder to avoid further damage.
"I don't know if it was the weather or not, but I didn't feel the same like when I started the season," Soriano said. "Sometimes you've got to figure out how you're going to get outs."
Garcia sure did. A front-runner for the fifth-starter's job after winning 12 games last year for the White Sox, Garcia showed enough in Spring Training that the Yankees were convinced he could help them in the regular season.
"I've said all along, Freddy is a competitor," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "It's why we went and got him."
Garcia had not started since March 29, having been pushed back by a rainout that tossed a wrinkle into the Yankees' pitching plans. As a result, the Yankees couldn't be sure how sharp his command would be.
They needn't have worried. Garcia shrugged off the long layoff and kept the Rangers off balance with an array of offspeed stuff, permitting only two hits.
"He's a veteran guy. He's been in that position before; he knows what he's doing," said catcher Gustavo Molina, who made his Yankees debut. "He worked in the bullpen and got ready for every start."
No longer the flamethrower he was when they played together with the Mariners in the 1990s, Garcia still cuts an impressive figure to Alex Rodriguez, who compared him to another crafty righty of years gone by.
"You know, I love Freddy," Rodriguez said. "He's a lot like David Cone, and it's funny he wears his number . He finds a way to win, and he's very smart. He understands what the hitters are looking for. He knows how to run away from the barrel."
Garcia walked one and struck out one in the outing, and said the 2011 version of himself has to be much more selective with the way he attacks hitters.
"I don't pitch much [to] the scouting report," Garcia said. "I don't throw that hard anymore, so I've got to go to my strengths and make it happen. It's [pitching to] contact, making a good pitch and getting ground balls."
Rangers manager Ron Washington complimented Garcia's wisdom in delegating his weapons.
"Freddy used to be a power pitcher, but now he is smart," Washington said. "He knows we're an aggressive team, so he changed speeds and stayed off the best part of the plate. He doesn't have the great fastball, but he still knows how to use it."
The Yankees got to Rangers lefty Derek Holland for five runs in 7 2/3 innings, though he pitched better than his line indicated.
Teixeira connected off Holland for a two-run homer in the first inning, the switch-hitter's fifth of the season, coming with Nick Swisher aboard.
New York manufactured another run in the third inning, as Derek Jeter worked a leadoff walk and advanced on a Swisher double. Teixeira lifted a well-hit fly ball to center field, bringing home the run on a sacrifice fly.
Teixeira said that his stroke feels pretty good for April, historically one of his roughest months.
"You're always working on it," Teixeira said. "There's never one point in the season where you can say, 'Oh, my swing is good, don't work anymore.' Every single day is a challenge, and right now I feel good."
With Garcia done after 84 pitches, Joba Chamberlain struck out two in a scoreless seventh, but Soriano ran into trouble as the fans on hand grew restless.
Elvis Andrus stroked an RBI single and Michael Young tapped another run in with an infield hit. The Yankees then held their breath as Adrian Beltre whistled a deep fly ball down the right-field line, a bid for a three-run homer.
"To me, it looked foul the whole way," Teixeira said. "The wind was swirling, though, so it could have caught a gust and gone fair. I knew he hit it well, because he's got some great power to the opposite field."
But it was gobbled up as a souvenir right of the foul pole, and Soriano came back to get Beltre to hit into an inning-ending double play, killing the threat.
Cano made contact with that same pole facing Holland in the eighth, and Mariano Rivera hurled a scoreless ninth to get the Yankees back into the comfort of a winning clubhouse.
"That was like hockey weather out there," Swisher said. "Kudos to the fans for coming out. That was a huge overall win."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.