That it was as the Rangers, one hit away from disaster, were able to stave off the Yankees' last-ditch rally and hold on to a 10-9 victory on Tuesday night in the Bronx.
Texas led 10-5 going into the ninth before New York rallied for four runs off Jason Grilli and Francisco. The Bombers also had runners at first and second with nobody out. But Francisco got Nick Swisher to pop out on a bunt attempt, and then got Melky Cabrera to hit a low sinking line drive right at shortstop Elvis Andrus.
Andrus caught the ball just off the ground, then barely beat pinch-runner Jerry Hairston Jr. back to second base to complete a game-ending double play.
"My first thought was to let the ball hit the ground," Andrus said. "But the ball just stayed in the air. So I just caught it and rushed to second base."
He did, and the Rangers, who started the night trailing, 4-0, before staging their own rally, were able to remain 1 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in the American League Wild Card standings.
"It was a battle out there all night," Washington said. "You've got to play for 27 outs. They put some good at-bats together in the ninth inning, but ultimately we scored one more run. It was tough getting that 27th out, but they showed what they're made of, and we showed what we are made of."
Texas won because of two-out hitting. The club had 23 batters reach base on 16 hits and seven walks, and 18 of those batters reached with two outs in an inning.
The Rangers were 5-for-11 on the night with runners in scoring position and two outs after entering the game with the fourth-lowest team batting average (.236) in the AL in those situations.
Nine of the Rangers' 10 runs came in an inning that began with two outs and nobody on base.
"That's good baseball," Washington said. "The toughest way to score is with two outs, but we did it tonight."
Said Yankees manager Joe Girardi, "It's one thing to give up rallies with two outs and a couple runners on, but nobody on and to be able to score nine runs with two outs -- that's harder to do."
The bottom of the Rangers' lineup did much of the work. Rodriguez, Chris Davis and Andrus were a combined 6-for-13 with two walks and five runs scored. Andrus also had a season-high three RBIs.
Young had three RBIs with a single and a two-run home run, Josh Hamilton had a four-hit night and Ian Kinsler had a couple of doubles.
"Sometimes you just get beat," Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said. "They score a lot of runs and they swing the bats well, everybody knows about Texas' lineup. So you are going to have to pitch to beat them. They got some guys who can swing the bats and they can score runs in bunches. "
Jorge Posada's two-run home run helped give New York a 4-0 lead in the first inning, but Texas struck back with two outs in the second against Joba Chamberlain. Rodriguez singled, Davis drew a walk and Andrus, with the runners on the move, smacked a double just inside the third-base bag to bring home two runs.
The bottom three got the Rangers going again with two outs in the fourth. This time, Rodriguez walked and Davis singled to start the rally. Andrus then singled through the left side to bring home Rodriguez.
Texas wasn't through. Julio Borbon hit a flare that fell in down the left-field line for a run-scoring single and Michael Young bounced a grounder up the middle to put the Rangers ahead. Borbon went to third on the play and Young ended up at second when center fielder Johnny Damon unwisely threw to third. That allowed two to score when Hamilton lined a single to left for a 7-4 lead.
"We caught some breaks in the fourth," Young said. "Joba obviously has great stuff, but we got some jam shots that fell in and that was big. We were able to chip away, and we needed them all in the end."
Nelson Cruz hit his 27th home run of the season with one out in the fifth, the only run Texas scored with fewer than two outs. Young had a two-out shot off reliever Chad Gaudin in the seventh that ultimately proved to be the difference.
"Our guys did a great job battling back and putting some runs on the board," said Millwood, who is now 10-8 with a 3.63 ERA on the season. "We know we can swing the bats, and that's exactly what we did tonight."