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07/03/08 12:56 AM ET

Rangers drop finale slugfest to Yanks

Holding a one-run lead, bullpen allows nine runs in seventh

NEW YORK -- This is not how the Rangers wanted Warner Madrigal to make his Major League debut.

They really didn't expect to ask him to hold a one-run lead in the seventh inning before 50,000 people at Yankee Stadium. They were hoping for something less stressful like long relief or mop-up duty in a blowout.

Necessity changed their plans. The Rangers had to put Madrigal in a difficult situation, and the results weren't pretty. The Yankees, down by a run, scored nine runs off Madrigal and veteran Jamey Wright in the bottom of the seventh and avoided a sweep with an 18-7 victory over the Rangers in the South Bronx on Wednesday night.

The Rangers (44-42) still took two of three from the Yankees (45-40) in their final trip to Yankee Stadium but were denied what would have been just their second three-game sweep there. The Rangers accomplished that just one other time, in 2003.

"Obviously, we would have loved to have swept the Yankees," said designated hitter Frank Catalanotto, who was 3-for-3. "It didn't happen, they hit us around quite a bit. "We can say, 'All right, we took two of three,' but when you have a team down like that, you want to step on their necks. We didn't do that."

Rangers shortstop Michael Young left the game after three innings because of a mild strain in his left groin muscle and is listed as day-to-day. The Rangers don't play again until Friday, when they open up a three-game series with the Orioles at Camden Yards.

"It's not too bad," manager Ron Washington said. "[Trainer Jamie Reed] said the strength is good. He should be all right in Baltimore. He hated to leave, but we weren't going to take any chances."

The Rangers took a 7-6 lead after Milton Bradley and Chris Davis hit a pair of two-run home runs in the top of the sixth against Yankees starter Sidney Ponson. It was Davis' third home run in his past five games, and he has also hit safely in his first six games with an at-bat as a Major Leaguer.

But the Rangers were too short in the bullpen to make that stand up. Texas basically went into the game short three relievers. Eddie Guardado is still unavailable because of shoulder inflammation, and Washington wanted to stay away from Frank Francisco and Josh Rupe because of their work earlier in the series.

That left it to Madrigal (0-1), who was called up on Saturday when Kason Gabbard went on the disabled list.

"We were hoping to stop them right there," Washington said. "We were hoping he could get us an inning. But all of a sudden, their bats woke up and we couldn't get anybody out."

Washington was also hoping rookie right-hander Luis Mendoza could work deeper into the game, but he lasted just 4 2/3 innings, allowing six runs -- five earned.

Mendoza took a 3-1 lead into the bottom of the third, but a key error by second baseman Ian Kinsler on a potential inning-ending double-play ball cost the Rangers. Mendoza ended up walking Alex Rodriguez with two outs to load the bases, and then Jason Giambi crushed a grand slam deep to right field to give the Yankees a 5-3 lead.

"I felt good, just one pitch," Mendoza said. "It was 1-and-1 and I was trying to make a pitch down and away and I left it over the middle."

The Yankees made it 6-3 in the fifth on another unearned run set up by third baseman German Duran's error.

"It all started to unravel in the third," Washington said. "Luis came back in the fourth and put up a zero, but he started to run out of gas in the fifth.

Joaquin Benoit had to get the Rangers out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the fifth and was also able to work a scoreless sixth to keep it 7-6. But the Rangers still needed nine outs.

Washington was hoping Madrigal could get them through the seventh, so Wright could work the eighth and C.J. Wilson could finish it out. But the Yankees decided otherwise. Madrigal's Major League career started with a double, walk, two more doubles and a single. He didn't get anybody out until the sixth batter he faced.

"That was a tough situation for him to make his Major League debut," Benoit said. "It's not that he can't pitch, but Yankee Stadium, one-run game, a guy with no experience. That's a tough situation."

By the time Wright came in to bail him out, the Rangers were down, 11-7, with a runner still on base. Wright, who leads the American League with 42 relief appearances and is fifth in relief innings, was unable to stop the bleeding. The Yankees piled on four more runs -- including a three-run home run by Rodriguez. Then the Yankees added three more in the eighth.

"That was tough," Wright said. "Just one of those days. I told [Madrigal] just to keep his head up. It's just one game. It couldn't have been any worse, but it's just one game. Just go out and prepare for the next one."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.