Rangers pound Yankees, 10-3, for 3-1 lead in ALCS

New York Yankees starting pitcher A.J. Burnett reacts New York Yankees starting pitcher A.J. Burnett reacts after giving up a three-run home run to Texas Rangers' Bengie Molina in the sixth ining of Game 4 of baseball's American League Championship Series Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2010, in New York. Photo Credit: AP

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Joe Girardi sounded almost defiant after the Yankees' Game 3 loss Monday.

"I don't think we are in trouble," he said.

They are now.

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Girardi left A.J. Burnett in a batter too long and the Yankees' bats weren't good enough as the defending world champions were pushed to the brink of elimination with a 10-3 loss to the Rangers on Tuesday night in Game 4 of the ALCS at the Stadium.

The defeat put the Yankees behind 3-1 in the best-of-seven series.

"I believe in this team," Girardi said afterward. "We have bounced back many times this year. It's a very resilient, professional group in there and they will be ready to play."

Making it worse was the loss of Mark Teixeira, who left in the fifth inning with a strained right hamstring, suffered while running to first trying to beat out a potential double play. He had an MRI at New York-Presbyterian Hospital that showed a Grade 2 strain.

"Our doctor said it's going to be six to eight weeks," Teixeira said.

Girardi said Eduardo Nuñez was likely to be brought up to take Teixeira's spot on the roster.

It will be up to CC Sabathia, who lost Game 1 and starts Wednesday, to send the series back to Texas for a sixth game.

"It's pretty cut and dried," Lance Berkman said. "We have to win three in a row. But we have to start with one."

It was an overall bizarre night, one in which Burnett pitched unexpectedly well much of the game before allowing Bengie Molina's crushing three-run homer that turned things around, giving the Rangers a 5-3 lead and deflating the crowd of 49,977. The Rangers improved to 5-0 on the road in the playoffs.

Molina's homer came four years to the day after his brother Yadier's two-run homer beat the Mets in Game 7 of the NLCS.

"One pitch, man, that's what it comes down to," Burnett said.

The Yankees knocked out starter Tommy Hunter after 31/3 innings but mostly came away frustrated at the plate, which has been the case much of the series. The Yankees were 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position Tuesday night and the Rangers were 3-for-6.

"They've played better than us, that's pretty much it," Derek Jeter said. "They've pitched better than us, they've hit better. When you have that combination, obviously you're going to find yourself behind."

The Yankees did get the tying run to the plate in the eighth when the Rangers walked the bases loaded with one out. Nick Swisher, after appearing to get hit in the pants leg above his right foot, flied out and Berkman grounded sharply into a 5-4 force play.

Girardi spent much of the season supporting Burnett, who went 10-15 with a 5.26 ERA. He often said: "I believe in A.J."

He believed in him one hitter too many this time. After intentionally walking lefthanded-hitting David Murphy, Girardi let Burnett face Molina with two on and two out in the sixth and Joba Chamberlain ready in the bullpen.

Molina pounced on Burnett's first pitch and slammed a high fly down the line in leftfield, a dispiriting three-run homer that gave the Rangers a 5-3 lead.

"We liked the matchup, A.J. against Molina, we did," Girardi said. "And unfortunately, it didn't work out. But A.J. was still throwing the ball good."

Burnett allowed five runs and six hits in six innings, striking out four and walking three.

"It's probably the best I've pitched in a long, long time," he said. "Mixing in everything and throwing everything with confidence."

Josh Hamilton has been swinging with confidence all season and he hit the first of his two homers of the night - he has four in the ALCS - a solo shot off Boone Logan, to make it 6-3. Chamberlain allowed a run on two hits in the same inning to make it 7-3. Hamilton's homer off Sergio Mitre in the ninth made it 8-3, and Nelson Cruz's two-run blast off Mitre made it 10-3.

The Yankees gave Burnett the lead in the second. After Alex Rodriguez flied out, Robinson Cano skied a ball into the first row of seats in right for his third homer of the postseason and a 1-0 lead. Nelson Cruz immediately protested to rightfield umpire Jim Reynolds that a fan interfered with him, and manager Ron Washington soon joined the cause.

Replays showed it was not anything close to a Jeffrey Maier situation as the fan never reached into the field of play.

"I was confident from the angle I had that it was - the ball was in the stands," Reynolds told a pool reporter.

Later in the inning, for a moment, the Yankees took a 2-0 lead. After Swisher struck out, Berkman tattooed the first pitch he saw from Hunter and sent it into the second deck, and it was called a home run by Reynolds. But replays showed the ball clearly sailed foul and was overturned after umpires reviewed the video.

The Yankees tied it at 2 in the third on Curtis Granderson's RBI single off Ian Kinsler's glove at second. They took a 3-2 lead in the fourth on Brett Gardner's RBI ground smash. They held that lead until Molina turned the game, and perhaps the series, completely around.

"Win and then you go from there," Girardi said. "As I said, it's a very tough-minded group in there and they have bounced back a lot. We have great leadership in there and we have to find a way to get it done."

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