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Resilient Rangers beat Mariano Rivera again

ARLINGTON, Texas -- If the Rangers and Yankees meet in October, one thing seems clear: Texas won't be intimidated by closer Mariano Rivera.

Don't take that the wrong way. They respect one of the game's best ever closers. No question about that. But this is a resilient bunch that has produced too many dramatic victories to think that anyone, not even the great Rivera, can keep them from making things interesting.

They did it to Rivera on Saturday in a crazy way as Jeff Francoeur was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to drive in the winning run. It was the first time in club history that the team had a walk-off hit by pitch. That came after Ian Kinsler's double tied the score as Rivera entered with a 6-5 lead.

That was the second time the Rangers won a game off Rivera. Texas pulled out an extra-inning game in August, scoring off Rivera in the 10th inning to win, 4-3 and hand Rivera the loss. It was the second straight walk-off win over the Yankees and the third this season. Washington sees that as a confidence booster for his team.

"It lets them know that they are a team that fights and they fight for nine innings," Washington said. "They fight to the end. They're not intimidated by anyone. They go out and play baseball."

Texas won it in odd fashion. Francoeur stood in the batter's box with the bases loaded and one out and figured he was getting the usual inside-cutter treatment from Rivera, who was pitching for the second straight night (he threw two innings on Friday).

"He jammed Kinsler and I figured he'd jam me or throw it low and outside," Francoeur said. "I was shocked when it hit me. I yelled, 'It hit me.' Then I ran to first."

Francoeur lifted his jersey and there was no mark on his left arm.

"Just say you saw one," joked Francoeur, soaking from the ceremonial beer shower for a walk-off win. "I wasn't moving. We're trying to win and it came inside."

"He's the best closer of all time, so it's not easy," Michael Young said. "Cruz had a long at-bat, Kins found a way to keep that thing fair. It's never easy. We had bases loaded and nobody out and it's far from a sure thing. You have to find a way to put together a good at-bat."

The ninth inning started with a walk to Vladimir Guerrero. Nelson Cruz singled and Kinsler tied the score with a double just inside the bag. Kinsler turned on an inside pitch and made something happen. After Chris Davis was walked intentionally, Andres Blanco popped out. That set things up for Francoeur.

"We were able to get it done," Franceour said. "It's fun to do that in front of all of these fans. For me, it's been three or four months since I've felt that kind of adrenaline rush. It's fun to get that back."

Young was pleased with his team's resiliency.

"We've done it all year long," Young said. "We don't feel like we're out of games -- home or road. We think we have an opportunity to put runs across. That's one of the things this team has done well all season long."

Other reaction/notes:

* Rivera pitched despite going two innings Friday. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said before the game that since Rivera had thrown just 23 pitches on Friday.

"He's human," Washington said. "He threw two innngs last night and maybe he wasn't as sharp as he could have been. I'm not going to take anything away from what Vlad did, Cruz did, Kins did and then Francouer. We battled. We pulled it off. We won the game."

* Kinsler had two big double plays defensively to end innings and keep the Yankees from adding more runs in threatening situations. He seems to be involved during critical moments when he's in the lineup and was again on Saturday.

* Washington didn't have Darren O'Day, Darren Oliver or Neftali Feliz available on Saturday and that led to some interesting bullpen choices at various times. Rich Harden and Pedro Strop found themselves in big situations. Neither is likely to be on the postseason roster. For more on that, check out my game thoughts.

* It was a 4 hour, 13 minute game without the 59-minute rain delay. That's the second-longest nine-inning game in franchise history.

* It was the club's 10th walkoff win of the season, most for Texas since winning 12 in that fashion in 1990. It's the first time to have consecutive walkoff wins since May 13-14, 2009 against Seattle.

* Francoeur got his sixth walk-off plate appearance of his career, first since a walkoff two-run homer on May 24, 2008 vs. Arizona. He also broke a 2-2 tie with his sac fly in the sixth.

* Washington passed Buck Showalter to go into third place on the club's all-time wins list. He trails only Bobby Valentine and Johnny Oates. Washington has 320 wins. Oates had 506 and Valentine had 581.

* That was Rivera's first blown save since July 4 vs. Toronto. He lost in Arlington in August, but that was a tie game and not a blown save. Rivera hadn't blown a save against the Rangers since Aug. 13, 2005 in Arlington. It was also Rivera's first blown save on the road since Sept. 18, 2009 at Seattle.