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Cliff Lee, Rangers Aim To Sweep Yankees

(Sports Network) - The Yankees weren't able to give Cliff Lee much trouble when they faced him in the fall last season. The same can't be said as of late for the starter's back.

After having his last start skipped, Lee will try to halt a five-start winless stretch today when the Texas Rangers try for their first sweep of New York at home in over 14 years.

Lee gave the Yankees all they could handle during last year's World Series as the then-Phillies hurler won both of his starts against them while striking out 13 batters over 16 innings with a 2.81 earned run average. New York, though, still knocked off Philadelphia in six games to win its 27th championship.

The left-handed Lee was then traded to the Mariners during the offseason and went 8-3 with a 2.34 ERA in 13 starts before getting dealt from the non- contenders to the Rangers. However, Lee has gone just 2-5 with a 4.69 ERA in 11 starts with Texas, including 0-3 with an 8.28 ERA in his last five outings.

Lee was tagged for seven runs -- four earned -- on 10 hits over 4 2/3 innings of a no-decision versus the Royals on Aug. 31, then had his next start skipped due to a back ailment.

The 32-year-old is 5-4 with a 4.81 ERA in 11 career regular-season starts against the Yankees, whom he yielded four runs against over 6 1/3 innings of a no-decision on Aug. 11 with the Rangers.

American League West-leading Texas has rallied to take the first two games of this set, putting the club in position to sweep New York for the first time since May 16-18, 2003. The Rangers, though, haven't swept the Yankees in Arlington since April 6-7, 1996.

After Nelson Cruz hit a game-tying homer in the eighth inning on Friday, then won it with another blast in the 13th inning, Ian Kinsler came through with a game-tying double off Yankees closer Mariano Rivera to even things in the ninth last night before Rivera hit Jeff Francoeur with the bases loaded to force home the game-tying run.

"This lets us know that we're a team that fights nine innings, fights till the end. We aren't intimidated by anyone. We just go out there and play baseball," Texas manager Ron Washington said.

The Rangers' rally came after Alex Rodriguez had hit a three-game double in the eighth inning to put the Yankees ahead by a run.

"It's unacceptable," Rivera said of his performance. "I went in there to do my job and to get them out ... It's hard. It's kind of tough."

While Texas won for the fourth game in a row and owns a comfortable 7 1/2-game lead for first place in its division, New York fell for the fifth time in its last six games and saw its edge over second-place Tampa Bay dip to just a half-game. The Yankees have owned at least a share of first place in the AL East since Aug. 4.

Dustin Moseley returns to New York's rotation this afternoon in the place of Phil Hughes, who is having this start skipped in an effort to limit his innings.

Moseley's last start came on Aug. 30 versus Oakland and he gave up four runs on five hits and four walks over 4 1/3 innings of work.

The 28-year-old righty, who made a relief appearance last Saturday, is 4-2 with a 4.83 ERA in 12 games (seven starts) this year and 0-1 with a 5.47 ERA in nine career meetings with Texas, four of those starts.

Though the Yankees swept a three-game set at home over the Rangers in April, they have lost three of four in Arlington.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.