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TEX@NYY: Chavez knocks in go-ahead run with a single

NEW YORK -- Eric Chavez is correct when he says, without a hint of chest-thumping, that he has done a few good things in this game. He's had some fine days in the sun but also was crushed by expectations to repeat them on a regular basis.

As he tries to rejuvenate his career as a bench player in a room of Hall of Famers, Chavez prefers it this way. Scattered moments, like his go-ahead hit in the Yankees' 6-5 victory over the Rangers on Sunday, are now easier to appreciate.

Chavez's eighth-inning RBI single off Arthur Rhodes pushed the Bombers ahead, serving as another big hit for the New York newcomer after he left behind the gold and green of the Oakland Athletics.

"People talk about changes of scenery, and whatever that means, I don't know," Chavez said. "But I'd been there my whole career, and the last few years hadn't been working, so I needed to change some things up. It's worked out so far."

Chavez was playing in place of Alex Rodriguez, who was sidelined with lower back and oblique stiffness and may return on Tuesday against the Blue Jays. But the Yankees had plenty of other thump, with Robinson Cano, Russell Martin and Curtis Granderson all homering.

That trio of long balls off Texas starter Alexi Ogando accounted for five runs, a hearty dose of firepower off a right-hander who had yet to allow a run in 14 innings. Ogando had surrendered just two homers in 54 2/3 previous big league innings.

But the Yankees have been homer-happy to historic levels. Their 27 homers through 14 games are the most in franchise history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, surpassing the 25 round-trippers the 1932 Yankees knocked out of the park through this many games.

"It's not always going to happen for us," Granderson said. "But when you can get them, you can definitely change a lot of things -- momentum, the lead, extending the lead. It's always something the other team has to be concerned about."

Chavez said he was looking for a slider from Rhodes, eventually lining a sharp single to center that chased Mark Teixeira home with the eventual winning run.

"We thought that he was going to play an important role for us this year," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Chavez. "He looked healthy moving around, he was swinging the bat great. He's been outstanding."

Chavez was once asked to be the face of the A's after stars like Jason Giambi and Miguel Tejada left, but injuries made it difficult to live up to a six-year, $66 million contract extension. He's enjoying a lower-profile role in New York.

"I really like it a lot; really," Chavez said. "I didn't really like that title over there anyway. I just want to get my work in; whenever Joe puts me in, I'll do my best and not have to worry about all that other stuff."

The hit made a winner of Rafael Soriano, who pitched a scoreless eighth inning for New York after a shaky outing on Saturday, and Mariano Rivera recorded his seventh save in as many chances.

"You've got to give them credit," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "You've got to give Chavez credit, and Teixeira for working the walk. All of those things happen."

Texas tied the game in the seventh as Michael Young got Joba Chamberlain for an RBI ground-rule double, removing CC Sabathia -- a 21-game winner last year -- from consideration as he still waits for his first victory of 2011.

"CC went and battled his tail off," Chamberlain said. "I let him down. That one's on me. There are a lot of starts left, and I'm pretty sure he's going to have a few under his belt before it's all said and done."

Sabathia hurled 6 1/3 innings, allowing four runs -- all driven in by Adrian Beltre, who slugged a two-run homer in the first, knocked in a run with an RBI single in the fourth and cracked a run-scoring double in the sixth.

It was a breakout night for Beltre, who had entered the game 3-for-22 lifetime against Sabathia.

"The mistakes I made, he didn't foul them off," Sabathia said. "He put them in play and put good swings on them. He got good results."

Sabathia had better luck with the rest of Texas' lineup in a 112-pitch outing, walking two and striking out six before walking off to a standing ovation from the crowd of 40,112.

"CC made some pitches; they just seemed to find ways to put the barrel on the ball, especially Beltre and Michael Young," Martin said. "They didn't seem to miss many pitches tonight. If you take away those two hitters, I think he had a great outing."

Now 0-1 with a 2.52 ERA through four starts, Sabathia said he had no problem walking away with his third no-decision.

"Not at all," Sabathia said. "We've been winning the games, and that's all you can ask for. This is a team game, and the ultimate goal is to get to the World Series. These are steps you need to take."

The Yankees waited out Ogando through 6 1/3 innings, hitting him harder the second and third times through the order. Cano started the offense in the second inning with his fourth homer and second in as many nights, a solo shot to right field.

Martin hit a game-tying home run in the fifth, sending a two-run shot out to left field with Chavez aboard, Martin's fourth home run as a Yankee.

"I choked up on the bat today," Martin said. "This guy was throwing pretty hard, so I made an adjustment and it paid off. I think he made some mistakes up, and we took advantage of him."

Granderson gave the Yankees a short-lived lead in the sixth, slugging a two-run shot inside the right-field foul pole. For Granderson, the home run was his fourth of the season and the first off a right-handed pitcher.

In all, it seemed to be a good night for general manager Brian Cashman, who chased both Martin and Chavez this winter and has seen those decisions morph into victories early on.

"Those guys are veterans -- I think they knew what they were stepping into," Sabathia said. "This is a great clubhouse and a great team to be around. They've embraced it, and it's been paying off."

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