Texas Rangers starter Colby Lewis did a bit of reminiscing when he noticed the stands filling up while he warmed up in the bullpen before the game.
The veteran right-hander went out and provided a promising flashback performance against the Yankees, even after another leadoff homer by Brett Gardner. The Rangers clinched their first series in a month with a 3-2 victory Wednesday night.
Lewis retired the last 13 batters he faced in seven strong innings, much like the 2010 AL championship series when he beat the Yankees twice — including the Game 6 clincher at home that got Texas to its first World Series. He had since missed the last half of 2012 because of elbow surgery and missed all of 2013, when he had an unprecedented hip procedure for a major league pitcher that was just short of a full hip replacement.
"I was definitely an adjustment period getting used to a prosthetic hip, I guess," Lewis said. "As the weeks have kind of transitioned into the second half, I feel like every time I take the mound, I feel like I'm getting stronger, my mechanics are sharper."
The Rangers had lost seven consecutive series since taking two of three against Minnesota from June 27-29.
Texas went ahead to stay with three runs in the first off Hiroki Kuroda (7-7). Elvis Andrus had an RBI double and scored the tiebreaking run on a single by Adrian Beltre, who came home on Leonys Martin's single.
Lewis (7-8) allowed four hits, with four strikeouts and New York didn't have another runner after Carlos Beltran's two-out single in the third.
"He made some adjustments along the way, and he just showed his presence and his veteran presence out there," manager Ron Washington said.
Neftali Feliz pitched a perfect ninth for his third save in as many chances since reassuming the closer role after Joakim Soria was traded to Detroit a week ago.
Neal Cotts, considered a potential trade possibility before Thursday's non-waiver trading deadline, retired the top three batters in the Yankees lineup in order in the eighth.
Kuroda struck out four while allowing nine hits over seven innings.
Derek Jeter was 0 for 4 in his final game in Texas, where a pregame ceremony honoring him included a personal appearance by former President George W. Bush.
After the Yankees captain was presented a pair of boots, a video was shown of Bush and Jeter when the former president threw the first pitch before Game 3 of the 2001 World Series, just weeks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Bush then came out and presented the Yankees captain a framed signed picture of the two together that night nearly 13 years ago.
"I heard he was coming to the stadium but I didn't know he was going to come out onto the field, so that's pretty special feeling," Jeter said. "When you have a president come out and give me something to honor, That's definitely a memory I'll have for a long time and get to brag to a lot of different people."