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Cliff lee Strides past Yanks

Cliff Lee added to his spotless playoff resume and continued his mastery of the Yankees by outdueling postseason stalwart Andy Pettitte, as the Texas Rangers took the lead in their American League Championship Series behind an 8-0 Game 3 victory over New York.

Josh Hamilton's two-run homer in the first inning spotted Lee (3-0) with an early lead, and that was all the left-hander needed, as he tied a career-high with 13 strikeouts and allowed only two hits and one walk over eight innings for the Rangers, losers of 10 straight postseason games to New York before a Game 2 victory on Saturday.

Over the past two seasons, Lee has quickly established himself as the standard for pitching prowess in the playoffs. Texas' midseason acquisition became the third pitcher in MLB history to win his first seven playoff decisions and is the first pitcher with three games of 10-plus punchouts in one postseason.

Hamilton added a double in the ninth to jump-start a six-run inning that turned a two-run game into a lopsided win.

Pettitte (1-1), unbeaten in his previous nine postseason starts, was sharp despite a 10-day rest between outings, yielding only five hits with no walks in seven innings for New York, which has dropped only two games at home the last two postseasons. Lee was the winning pitcher in both, with the other coming in Game 1 of the World Series while he was with the Phillies.

Game 4 is scheduled for Tuesday with the defending World Series champion Yankees leaning on the unpredictable arm of A.J. Burnett and Texas calling on 24-year-old righty Tommy Hunter.

The Rangers' bullpen played a big part in the first two games, blowing a late lead in a series-opening 6-5 loss before five relievers combined for 3 1/3 scoreless frames in a 7-2 win in Game 2.

Manager Ron Washington needed just one inning from his reinforcements on Monday, and the situation was made easier with six add-on runs in the ninth.

The Yankees' relievers allowed just one earned run this postseason before the flood gates opened in the final frame. Hamilton hit a gapper to left off Boone Logan to start the inning, and Yankees skipper Joe Girardi opted to bring in David Robertson.

Vladimir Guerrero singled to left to put runners on the corners, and Nelson Cruz punched a hit through a drawn-in infield to bring in Hamilton. After Ian Kinsler went down swinging, pinch-hitter David Murphy was intentionally walked to load the bases. Begine Molina brought in a run with a single, Mitch Moreland knocked in two on a base hit down the right-field line, and Elvis Andrus doubled over Nick Swisher's head in right for a 7-0 lead.

Sergio Mitre mercifully relieved Robertson and promptly threw a wild pitch that allowed Moreland to come in for the game' final run.

Lee, at 122 pitches, did not come out in the bottom half, as closer Neftali Feliz set down the top of New York's order to secure the win.

With one out in the first inning, Michael Young got on base when he laced a payoff pitch to right-center for a single after fouling off several pitches.

Hamilton, who homered in Game 1, showed off some more power by flicking an outside cutter deep to right. The slugger didn't get all of it, but it was enough to clear the short fence for an early 2-0 cushion.

Lee set down the first nine batters he faced, including Brett Gardner to end the third. The speedster nearly beat out a dribbler to first, but Moreland flipped over to Lee just in time to get the out.

Derek Jeter and Swisher both went down swinging to open the fourth, the latter on the 11th pitch of the at-bat, before Mark Teixeira worked a walk to give New York its first baserunner. On the next pitch, though, Alex Rodriguez flew out to left, as Cruz made a shoe-string catch going to his left.

The Yankees got their first hit the next inning when Jorge Posada's broken-bat humpback liner fell in for a two-out single. Lee stranded the runner on first by striking out Curtis Granderson.

As Pettitte was settling in, New York got its first runner past first base in the sixth when Gardner led off with a single and stole second. He was stranded there, however, as Jeter went down swinging and Swisher and Teixeira both grounded out.

Lee was at 109 pitchers after hurling a 1-2-3 seventh, then stayed on in the eighth and set down the side in order again.

Game Notes

Lee went 2-0 with a 3.09 earned-run average in three starts against the Yankees in the regular season. He defeated them twice in the World Series last year and, including regular season and postseason, has won six straight starts in the Bronx. It was the fifth time in his last six postseason starts he has struck out 10 or more. His career postseason earned-run average dipped to 1.26, good for this best all-time. Orlando Hernandez (eight) and Orel Hershiser (seven) are the other pitchers that have won their first seven postseason decisions...The Rangers had lost five straight postseason games in the Bronx...Young had three of Texas' 11 hits...Pettitte, the winningest pitcher in postseason history, had not lost a postseason game since the 2005 National League Championship Series as a member of the Houston Astros...Jeter went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, snapping an 11-game postseason hitting streak....Before the game, Yankee Stadium took a moment of silence to remember longtime fan Freddy Schuman, who passed away on Sunday at age 85.

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