Matt Garza pitched into the eighth inning of his Rangers debut, the only run he allowed unearned after his throwing error, and Texas beat the New York Yankees 3-1 on Wednesday night.
Garza (1-0) was 6-1 in his 11 starts this season for the Chicago Cubs before being traded Monday to the Rangers, who had long coveted the right-hander. He was 5-0 with a 1.24 ERA his last six starts for Chicago, winning the last five.
After giving up consecutive singles to start his first game in a Rangers jersey, Garza retired 15 of the next 16 batters before his throwing error on Brett Gardner’s comebacker leading off the sixth.
A.J. Pierzynski drove in two runs for Texas, including a tiebreaking solo homer in the bottom of the sixth off Andy Pettitte (7-8). David Murphy also homered, off reliever Shawn Kelley in the eighth.
The Rangers were interested in Garza when Tampa Bay traded him to Chicago after the 2010 season. They also inquired about him last summer before he missed the last two months with a stress reaction in his right elbow. He missed the first seven weeks this season because of a strained left lat muscle.
Garza struck out five with no walks while throwing 95 pitches over 7 1-3 innings.
Neal Cotts retired all four batters he faced before Joe Nathan got the final out for his 32nd save in 34 chances. The All-Star closer rebounded from the previous night when he gave up two runs in the ninth of a 5-4 loss to the Yankees.
Gardner’s comebacker leading off the sixth rolled away from Garza even though the pitcher was able to get a glove on it. He scrambled to grab the ball, but threw awkwardly off his knee well wide of first base. The speedy Gardner was credited with an infield single and got to third on the errant throw.
Garza then snagged Ichiro Suzuki’s comebacker for an out before Robinson Cano lined a single to right to tie the game at 1 in the sixth.
Walking off the mound after the inning, Garza was clearly frustrated at himself. He already felt better soon after that, pumping his arms in the air and slapping his hands together when Pierzynski hit his 10th homer.
Pettitte allowed eight eights and two runs while pitching into the seventh. The 41-year-old left-hander struck out two and walked one.
The Rangers quickly led 1-0 after Ian Kinsler had a leadoff single, went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Elvis Andrus and scored on a single by Pierzynski. It was the second time in three games this series they scored a run in the first inning, after 10 consecutive games without a run in the initial frame.
Notes: Even with the victory for the Rangers, it was the 27th day in a row they failed to gain ground in the AL West since Oakland won 4-3 at Houston earlier Wednesday. The Rangers have gone from a half-game lead to three games back in that span. ... Rangers opening day starter Matt Harrison threw live BP, facing hitters for the first time since April. The lefty has been on the DL and had two back surgeries since his last start April 6. Harrison says he felt good and is expected to throw BP again Saturday in Cleveland. ... Yankees OF Curtis Granderson (broken pinkie) said he will start a minor league rehab assignment Thursday night with Class A Tampa and will evaluated at the end of the weekend. ... New York 3B Jayson Nix (hamstring), who went 0 for 2 and was hit by a pitch Wednesday in his first rehab game with the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Yankees. He could join Granderson at Tampa.