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08/05/08 1:18 AM ET
Byrd's dramatic slam lifts Rangers
Texas celebrates third walk-off victory in past eight games
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers' homestand continued Monday night with just another walk-off, dogpile-at-home plate, beer-shower-in-the-clubhouse victory. This time, Marlon Byrd was the man in the middle getting mobbed by his teammates at home plate and doused with suds in the clubhouse after delivering the Rangers' third walk-off victory in eight games on this 11-game homestand. Byrd brought this one to a close with a grand slam off Yankees reliever Damaso Marte with two outs in the ninth inning that gave the Rangers a 9-5 victory before 33,813 fans at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. It's the Rangers' seventh walk-off victory this season. "It's an incredible feeling," Byrd said after getting the traditional beer showering in the clubhouse. "A win like this, it's a wonderful feeling." The Rangers, with their 24th comeback win of the season, are a season-high five games over .500 after snapping a 10-game losing streak to the Yankees at the Ballpark. Texas also had walk-off victories against the Mariners and the Blue Jays earlier in the homestand. "I've never seen anything like this," winning pitcher Eddie Guardado said. "This team is unbelievable. I've been around a long time, but this is pretty excited." The one difference in this victory was the game was tied going into the ninth. The Rangers had to rally to beat the Mariners and the Blue Jays. But the Rangers also trailed 3-0 after 3 1/2 innings against Yankees right-hander Joba Chamberlain. "It never gets old," third baseman Ramon Vazquez said. "I'm enjoying every bit of this It's amazing. Unbelievable. I just hope we keep doing it and have fun." Rangers starter Vicente Padilla fell behind 3-0 after allowing a run in the first and home runs to Jason Giambi and Robinson Cano in the fourth. But David Murphy hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth and, after Padilla balked home a run in the fifth, Michael Young hit a three-run home run off Chamberlain to give the Rangers a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the fifth. "It was a hard-fought game and they have a good lineup up and down," Chamberlain said. "They were just two bad pitches and they did what they were supposed to do. I fell behind and you can't fall behind a guy like Michael Young. I left it over the plate and he did what he was supposed to do with it." Padilla had one inning left in him, but it was a big inning. He gave up singles to Giambi and Xavier Nady to start the sixth but kept the Yankees from scoring. He retired Robinson Cano on a line drive to left, then got Ivan Rodriguez and Justin Christian on grounders to short to end the inning in what manager Ron Washington thought was one of the pivotal moments of the game. "We needed him badly to get through the sixth and I'll be darned if he didn't do just that," said Washington, who was ejected from the game in the fifth for arguing the balk call on Padilla. The Yankees did tie it in the eighth on a home run by Nady off of reliever Frank Francisco. But center fielder Josh Hamilton denied them the lead in the ninth. Johnny Damon doubled with two outs off Guardado and Derek Jeter followed with a soft line drive into left-center. It looked like a hit until Hamilton came racing in and made a tumbling catch just off the ground. "That saved the game," Guardado said. "I wasn't sure," Damon said when asked if he thought Jeter had delivered the winning hit. "The ball carries a bit differently here. But Hamilton is a great athlete and he made a great play to help his team win." The Rangers didn't let it go to waste. Milton Bradley, making his first appearance in a game since last Tuesday, opened the ninth as a pinch-hitter for Vazquez and drew a walk. Travis Metcalf went into pinch-run for him. Ian Kinsler struck out after fouling off two bunt attempts, but Gerald Laird drew a walk. Young struck out, but Hamilton kept the inning alive by drawing another walk. That left them loaded for Byrd, who went up there looking for a first-pitch slider. "He was throwing first-pitch sliders to everybody," Byrd said. Byrd got what he saw and smashed it to deep right-center for his second grand slam of the year. It's the first walk-off grand slam for the Rangers since Alex Rodriguez against the Red Sox on July 31, 2003. This time, Rodriguez was in the other dugout. Byrd was so excited after getting pummeled by his teammates at home plate that he ordered another round of high-fives for everybody -- including club president Nolan Ryan and friends sitting in the first row -- and then danced a little jig with Jarrod Saltalamacchia in front of the Rangers dugout. "Just great," Byrd said. "We just keep picking each other up. The second half ... that's what we've been doing. That's what winning teams do."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.