Derek Lowe pitched four innings of scoreless relief to notch his first save in over 11 seasons as the Yankees defeated the Rangers 8-2 at Yankee Stadium. (Image: Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE)

Yankees' Trifecta: Swisher's slam, Lowe's relief aid Phelps' first victory as starter

New York Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher blasted a go-ahead grand slam and Derek Lowe pitched four innings of relief for his first save in over 11 years (almost to the date) which helped earn David Phelps his first victory as a starter in the Yankees 8-2 drubbing of Ryan Dempster and the Texas Rangers.

Phelps has done a little of everything for the Yankees in his rookie campaign. He’s pitched in long relief, short relief and started some games due to an injury. He has performed exceptionally in each of these roles but had been unable to get into through the fifth inning in his few starts because of tight pitch counts. Last night looked as if the same may hold true for Phelps after a 26-pitch first inning. But, he was fairly stingy for the next four innings and picked off two players in the process. He finished the night allowing two runs on six hits and one walk while striking out three.

The Rangers reached Phelps for a run in the first off an infield hit and a broken-bat single. In the second David Murphy golfed a curveball into the seats putting the visitors up 2-0.

Dempster, who was acquired in a trade with the Chicago Cubs, looked impressive the first two innings of the game. His performance quickly went south in the bottom of the third. The inning started with back-to-back singles by Russell Martin and Raul Ibanez. Ichiro Suzuki moved the runners over with his second sac bunt in his last 1200+ plate appearances. Derek Jeter drew a walk to load the bases and newly installed number-two hitter Nick Swisher tattooed a Dempster slider into the second deck in right field for his 200th career home run and sixth grand slam of his career. The Yankees have now hit nine grand slams on the season which is one shy of the franchise record.

Phelps was on a pitch count of 75-80 pitches and made it through the fifth with 78. He was relieved by freshly inked 39-year-old Derek Lowe, who had been recently released by the Cleveland Indians. Lowe was magnificent in his Yankee debut. He finished off the game, throwing four innings of scoreless ball. He allowed only two singles with zero walks and struck out four.

The Yankees tacked on a run in the sixth on a homer from Eric Chavez and two in the seventh via a Jeter RBI-double and a run-scoring single by Swisher for his fifth RBI of the night. All eight runs were charged to Dempster, the second time he’s been lit up for that number in three starts with Texas.

The Yankees (68-47) maintain a five-game lead in the American League East over the Tampa Bay Rays who won their seventh straight game last night. The Rangers (67-47) sit six games ahead of idle Oakland in the American League West.

Tonight the Yankees will lean on Hiroki Kuroda (10-8, 3.24 ERA) to continue his strong second half, while the Rangers counter with lefty Matt Harrison (13-6, 3.31 ERA) who has struggled of late with a 5.40 ERA over his last three starts.

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Tags: David Murphy David Phelps Derek Jeter Derek Lowe Eric Chavez Hiroki Kuroda Ichiro Suzuki Matt Harrison New York Yankees Nick Swisher Raul Ibanez Russell Martin Ryan Dempster Texas Rangers Yankees

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