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NYY@TEX: Jeter hits second homer of game

ARLINGTON -- Power has never been Derek Jeter's signature asset, even though the Yankees shortstop owns some memorable home runs sprinkled throughout the annals of baseball history.

Still, it was becoming difficult to remember exactly when Jeter had last put one over the outfield walls.

He cleared up the mystery and perhaps the greater perception of his season to date, homering twice in New York's 12-5 victory over the Rangers on Sunday.

"I'm not catching Babe Ruth, you know what I mean?" said Jeter, who homered for the first time in 259 at-bats. "My job is to get on base and score runs. I just want to have good at-bats."

The Yankees had plenty of stock in that department, as Jeter contributed four of their 16 hits off Texas pitching, five of which were home runs.

Francisco Cervelli's first career grand slam highlighted a six-run eighth, while Curtis Granderson slugged his American League-leading 11th homer that followed Jeter's second blast. Mark Teixeira joined the party with a two-run shot in the eighth.

"It's very nice," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We have a lot of power in our lineup. We put a lot of hits up today, which was really good to see. We didn't do that on the road trip. Those home runs can provide a big lift for your club."

As the Yankees completed a seven-game, four-loss road trip to Detroit and Arlington, they were able to cover up a sloppy effort in which they committed four errors behind ace CC Sabathia -- two by the lefty himself.

"I think these guys pick me up a lot," said Sabathia, who allowed five runs (three earned) in six-plus innings. "That's why I was talking about just keeping them in the game. At any time, you can have an inning like the eighth inning. We've just got to keep them in striking distance."

Jeter's offensive performance has been a hot-button issue for the Yankees all season, as the 36-year-old captain fights criticism that his skills are fading even as he begins a three-year, $51 million contract.

Don't tell that to Dave Bush or Arthur Rhodes, who served up Jeter's homers in the fifth inning and the seventh inning, respectively.

"He looked like the Derek Jeter of old," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He [hit] two balls to [right-center] field. He swung the bat well today."

Jeter's four hits Sunday raised his average 20 points, from .256 to .276, and the Yankees have been seeing encouraging signs of a revival on this trip -- for example, he stung a double off the left-field wall Saturday that sparked a four-run rally.

"All I can ask for is to feel comfortable," Jeter said. "If you feel comfortable, the hits will come. Sometimes it's not as easy as it may look. You've got to continue to work, and eventually the results will be there."

Looking to rebound after hitting a career-low .270 last year, Jeter even experimented with eliminating the stride in his stance. But he has scrapped that idea and is back to the form that helped him gather most of his 2,960 Major League hits.

"I tried the no-stride thing, and it didn't work out," Jeter said. "It's pretty difficult to hit when you're sitting around trying to think of too many things.

"Now it's gotten to the point where I'm just trying to hit and not think. It's taken some time, but it's not always easy to hit .300."

If Jeter's two homers were the most surprising development of the day, Cervelli's full-count rocket to center field off reliever Cody Eppley might not have been far behind.

It was Cervelli's first career grand slam, and just the second homer of his career. His other long ball came on June 24, 2009, a span of 307 at-bats. He pumped his knees high as he rounded first base in glee.

"I realized I had the bases loaded when I got to the dugout," Cervelli said. "I'm happy today, so happy. That's for my mom and for the team, too."

Texas put up four runs on Sabathia in the first two innings, as Mike Napoli stroked a two-run single, David Murphy lifted a sacrifice fly and Elvis Andrus squibbed a run-scoring hit.

But the lefty settled in long enough to allow Jeter and the Yankees to chip away, walking four and striking out two.

"Just try to keep it close, and I think he'll find it," Girardi said. "He really did. He just had a hard time finding his command with his fastball."

Making a spot start in place of Alexi Ogando, who is dealing with a blister, Bush was knocked out in the fifth by Jeter's first homer. Bush had also allowed third-inning RBI singles to Jeter and Granderson.

A pair of hits greeted Ryan Tucker, who allowed a game-tying RBI groundout to Alex Rodriguez. But it was a dugout conversation with hitting coach Kevin Long after Jeter's first homer that buoyed Girardi most.

"I said to K-Long, 'We're going to talk about him again,'" Girardi said. "Sometimes people are very quick to judge. We're pleased, and let's hope there's a lot more good days like this."

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