Bronx, NY – Nick Swisher's grand slam marked the 200th homer of his career, and Derek Lowe paid immediate dividends in his Yankees debut, as New York hammered the Texas Rangers, 8-2, Monday night.
Lowe, who was signed by the Yankees on Monday after being released by Cleveland last week, gave up just two hits and had four strikeouts over the final four shutout innings. The righty gained his first save since 2001 when he pitched for Boston. This marked Lowe's third relief stint since that season.
"He saved our bullpen there," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "His sinker was really good, his slider was good tonight, a lot of ground ball outs. A tremendous job on his part."
David Phelps (3-3) started and yielded six hits and a pair of runs over five innings.
Swisher knocked in five runs. Eric Chavez also homered and Derek Jeter had an RBI and scored twice for the AL East-leading Yankees, who have won five of their last six games.
David Murphy went deep for the AL West front-runners, who lost for just the fourth time in 12 contests this month.
Ryan Dempster (1-1) was shelled for nine hits and eight runs over six-plus innings in the opener of this four-game series.
Phelps, 25, pitched effectively in his fourth major league start and first since July 4. He stepped in for CC Sabathia, who was supposed to start Monday, but was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Saturday with a sore left elbow.
The Rangers got to Phelps for a pair of runs over the first two innings. In the opening frame, Nelson Cruz hit a broken-bat single to center to knock in Elvis Andrus. Murphy led off the second with a homer to right.
Dempster came into Monday leading the majors with a 1.64 road ERA this season, but Swisher moved that up a notch with his second-deck blast to right in the third. Russell Martin and Raul Ibanez singled, and one out later Jeter walked. Swisher then smacked his sixth career grand slam.
"You get the ball up in the middle of the plate to those guys, you get exactly what they did," Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
After loading the bases again later in the third, the Yankees padded their lead to 5-2 on Curtis Granderson's sacrifice fly to center.
Chavez led off the home sixth by drilling a 2-2 offering over the wall in right.
Ichiro Suzuki began the seventh with a triple to right-center, and Jeter followed with a double off the base of the wall in right. Michael Kirkman then entered from the bullpen, but Swisher greeted the southpaw with a soft line drive RBI single to left-center.
To make room for Lowe on the roster, the Yankees optioned pitcher Ryota Igarashi to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre...Dempster fell to 0-4 lifetime against the Yankees, who have committed just two errors over their last 19 games (both coming in last Wednesday's win at Detroit)...The Yankees now have nine grand slams this season, one shy of their franchise record...Texas outfielder Josh Hamilton extended his hitting streak to 11 games.