ARLINGTON, Texas — Texas Rangers starter Colby Lewis did a bit of reminiscing when he noticed the stands filling up while he warned up in the bullpen before the game.
The veteran right-hander went out and provided a promising flashback performance against the New York 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."
GARDNER GOES DEEP — AGAIN: Gardner led off the game with a homer for the second straight night, after homering twice in the series-opening loss for New York. His 14 homers are already six more than his career high last year.
Yankees: Second baseman Brian Roberts got his third game off in four days. Manager Joe Girardi said the 36-year-old is dealing with general soreness. Roberts has already played in 91 games this season, after averaging only 48 games the last four seasons with Baltimore.
Rangers: Left-hander Derek Holland, who had left knee surgery after getting tripped by his dog on the stairs at his home during the offseason, made his first rehab start for Double-A Frisco. He threw two scoreless innings without allowing a hit, throwing 21 of 33 pitches for strikes with four strikeouts and two walks.
An off day Thursday for both teams. The Yankees go to Boston for the opener of a three-game series Friday night, when the Rangers start a nine-game trip with a series opener at Cleveland.
A-GAME: Rangers left fielder Jim Adduci had two hits and a couple of nice catches. Adduci made a running catch in the second, holding on after he leaped, reached out and then crashed into the wall. "There is zero thought process in that," he said. "That wall won."