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September 11, 2009

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Jeter ties Gehrig for Yanks hit record

DEREK Jeter tied the New York Yankees all-time career hit mark as his Major League-best team rallied to beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-2 on Wednesday.

The Yankees captain made three hits to join Lou Gehrig with 2,721 for his career, a record that stood for more than 70 years.

Gehrig's final hit came on April 29, 1939, a single against the Washington Senators. The Iron Horse had held the club record for hits since September 6, 1937, when he passed Babe Ruth.

Catcher Jorge Posada smashed a three-run homer in the eighth to help New York (91-50) take the four-game set against the Rays (72-68).

It was a celebratory night for the home crowd, who showered Jeter with applause in the seventh inning as the Yankees shortstop stood at first base and doffed his batting helmet after reaching the franchise mark.

"I didn't know what to do - we were losing at the time," Jeter told reporters, of his special moment. "I took a moment to soak it in. When I saw them giving me an ovation I really appreciated it. The fans have been great this whole homestand, I've been trying to do it for them. That's why I bunted (for a hit) in the first inning, because I needed to get at least one hit."

Jeter was mired in an 0-for-12 slump heading into the night but snapped it with an emphatic performance. He will have a chance to break the record tomorrow when the Yankees host Baltimore.

Already on their feet in anticipation, fans let loose with a roar when Jeter's sharp grounder inside the first-base line got by a diving Chris Richard in the seventh.

Jeter's parents, watching from an upstairs box between home plate and first base, raised their arms and exclaimed in excitement. The ball was saved for Jeter as a souvenir.

Elsewhere in the American League, it was: Rangers 10, Indians 0; Twins 4, Blue Jays 1; Red Sox 7, Orioles 5; Royals 5, Tigers 1; White Sox 4, Athletics 3 (in 13 innings); and Angels 6, Mariners 3.

In the National League, it was: Cubs 8, Pirates 5; Cardinals 5, Brewers 1; Padres 4, Giants 2; Phillies 6, Nationals 5; Marlins 6, Mets 3; Astros 2, Braves 1; Rockies 4, Reds 3; and Diamondbacks 4, Dodgers 3.

In New York, trailing 0-2, the Yankees rallied when Alex Rodriguez led off the eighth with a single and later scored on a throwing error from Richard.

Posada came on to pinch-hit and sent a drive over the right-field fence against reliever Grant Balfour, his 21st homer of the year.

New York relievers Brian Bruney and Phil Coke combined to close out the ninth inning, stranding Rays third baseman Evan Longoria at third.

Starter Joba Chamberlain was pulled after the third inning for the third straight start and has now gone six outings without a win.


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