Associated Press Writer
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — A.J. Burnett used a simple plan to end six weeks of struggles.
Burnett pitched six shutout innings to win for the first time since April 14, Hideki Matsui homered twice and the New York Yankees gained a share of the AL East lead by beating the Texas Rangers 9-2 Wednesday night.
The right-hander, who was 0-2 with a 6.04 ERA over his past seven starts, said he wanted to stay aggressive against a hard-hitting Rangers lineup.
"I basically went after them," Burnett said. "I didn't leave anything over the plate. That's a big difference. When you don't make mistakes, they can't capitalize."
Burnett (3-2) allowed three hits, walked four and struck out seven to snap his longest winless drought since the end of the 2005 season.
After winning 18 games with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2008, Burnett won his first two starts in pinstripes before his lengthy slump.
"That's the A.J. we all know and love," said Mark Teixeira, who hit his 15th homer. "It all starts with starting pitching. If we get good starting pitching, we have a chance to win every single night with this offense."
The Yankees, who have won 12 of 15, are tied atop the division with Boston. It is the first time this season New York has been in first place in the AL East.
"It's about the team," Burnett said. "As long as I take a positive step forward, the wins will come."
Derek Jeter was 3 for 4 and reached base five times, and Teixeira added his 12th homer in May. The Yankees had 15 hits and outscored the first-place Rangers 23-10 in the three-game series.
Alex Rodriguez was 7 for 13 with four RBIs in his first series in Texas since admitting earlier this year that he used steroids while playing for the Rangers. For the third straight game, he was greeted with loud boos every time he came to the plate.
Derek Holland (1-2) lost in his second career start, allowing 10 hits and six runs in five innings.
"It's definitely a little different facing the Yankees," Holland said. "Each one was a tough out."
Matsui, who was in a 3 for 23 funk coming into the series, homered on the first pitch of the sixth inning from Holland. He added a two-run shot in the seventh off Warner Madrigal.
It was Matsui's third career multihomer game, and first since July 31, 2007, against the Chicago White Sox.
"I've been working with our hitting coach (Kevin Long) as far as shifting my balance," Matsui said through an interpreter. "It's a little adjustment I've been working on."
Robinson Cano homered in the ninth, giving the Yankees 77 this season to tie the Rangers for the top total in baseball.
Burnett, who signed a five-year, $82.5 million contract in the offseason, had not won in seven starts. He was 0-6 over his last seven starts with Florida in 2005.
In the sixth, Johnny Damon gave Burnett a hand when he crashed into the wall in left and made a bobbling catch of Josh Hamilton's line drive.
Jeter singled to lead off the game. After Damon struck out, Teixeira homered over the fence in left. Teixeira's 12 homers in May are the most for a New York player in a month since Rodriguez hit 14 in April 2007.
New York extended its lead to 3-0 when Cash and Jeter hit consecutive two-out doubles in the second.
Matsui's homer in the sixth gave the Yankees a 4-0 advantage, and the Yankees tacked on two more in the sixth after that.
Ian Kinsler hit a two-run homer off Jose Veras in the Texas seventh, his 13th of the season.
Notes:@ The three-game series drew 120,720, the most for a series in Arlington since the Red Sox came to town April 6-8, 2007. … The Yankees extended a franchise record by playing their 14th straight errorless game. … Chien-Ming Wang pitched two hitless innings and struck out two in his second appearance since coming off the disabled list. The Yankees' righty lowered his ERA from 25.00 to 20.45. "That's as good as I've seen him this year," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.