SPORTS

2011 MLB Playoffs: Rangers advance, D-Backs survive, Yankees force Game 5

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Rangers 3, Rays 2

Paul Goldschmidt's grand slam gave the D-Backs a 7-1 lead that they wouldn't give up. (Photo: Associated Press)

Texas' Adrian Beltre hit three homers as the Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 on Tuesday to clinch their first-round playoff series 3-1 and move into the American League Championship Series.

Beltre became just the seventh player to homer three times in a postseason game, and the first since Adam Kennedy of the Angels in 2002. Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and George Brett also are on the list.

The Texas slugger connected in his first three at-bats. Given a chance to tie the big league record of four homers in a game, Beltre hit a flyout in the eighth.

Rangers closer Neftali Feliz gave up a run in the ninth inning before closing for his third save of the series.

Texas won for the fifth straight time on the road — all at Tropicana Field — in an opening-round playoff series. The Rangers eliminated Tampa Bay in five games last year.

Ian Kinsler led off the game for Texas by homering on the second pitch from Rays rookie Jeremy Hellickson.

Then it was Beltre's turn. He came into the game in an 1-for-11 slump in this series before breaking loose.

"The first couple games their pitching was really good," Beltre said. "Today something changed, I felt more comfortable at the plate, and I did something to help my team win."

Beltre hit solo shots off Hellickson in the second and fourth innings, and added another solo drive against Matt Moore during the seventh.

Beltre signed with Texas in the offseason after playing last year in Boston. He and Kinsler tied for the team lead with 32 homers, and Beltre had been on a late-season tear going into the playoffs.

"That's one of the main reasons I came to this team. We're looking good right now, but we still have a long way to go," he said.

Yankees 10, Tigers 1

In Detroit, maligned pitcher A.J. Burnett came through when New York needed him most, leading the Yankees to a victory that squared the AL Division Series against Detroit at 2-2.

The Yankees didn't plan to start Burnett in this series, but they didn't have much of a choice after Game 1 took two days to finish. So they sent the erratic right-hander to the mound, hoping for the best.

New York's worst fears appeared to be coming true in the first. The Yankees' bullpen was already stirring when Burnett walked three hitters, one intentionally, to bring up Don Kelly with two outs and the bases loaded.

Kelly hit a hard line drive to center field. Curtis Granderson appeared to misjudge the ball at first before backing up and jumping at the last moment to take the catch, robbing Kelly of an extra-base hit and the Tigers of multiple runs.

Instead it was New York that took the lead in the third inning. Detroit starter Rick Porcello hit Jorge Posada with a pitch to start the inning and Russell Martin followed with a single. After a strikeout, Derek Jeter hit a drive to deep center that speedy Austin Jackson wasn't able to run down.

Both runners scored on the double to give New York a 2-0 lead, and Jeter made up for striking out with the potential tying run on base, ending Game 3.

Burnett allowed Victor Martinez's leadoff homer in the fourth, cutting the Yankees lead to 2-1. One out later, Peralta doubled down the left-field line, but Burnett got two strikeouts to end the inning.

Martin and Brett Gardner led off the fifth with singles for the Yankees. After Jeter bunted into a force play at third, Granderson doubled to right, driving in a run. Alex Rodriguez added a sacrifice fly to make it 4-1 to the visitors.

Granderson, who was on the Detroit team that went to the World Series in 2006 before being traded to New York, has hit 41 homers this season but on Tuesday he made his biggest impact with his glove.

He took another key catch in the sixth when Jhonny Peralta hit a fly to left-center. Granderson sprinted over and made a diving catch even more impressive than the first one, sliding across the outfield grass on his belly after making the grab. He appeared momentarily shaken by the dive, but stayed in the game.

The Yankees, who had lost five straight postseason road games when facing elimination, broke it open with six runs in the eighth. Detroit reliever Al Alburquerque balked in a run, and the Yankees added two more on singles by Jesus Montero and Gardner.

Daniel Schlereth allowed a run later in the inning when his wild pitch bounced all the way over the screen, and Robinson Cano's two-run single sent fans at Comerica Park toward the exits.

Game 5 is Thursday in New York. New York's rookie Ivan Nova, who shut down the Tigers in the opener, is expected to start against Doug Fister.

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