Giambi's grand slam triggers Yanks' offensive explosion

NEW YORK (AP) -- Hank Steinbrenner demanded to see more offense, and Jason Giambi and the New York Yankees obliged.

If only it were that easy all the time.

Giambi hit a grand slam and drove in a season-best six runs, Alex Rodriguez added a three-run shot to move another notch up the career home run list, and New York pounded the Texas Rangers 18-7 Wednesday night to avoid a series sweep.

The Yankees had been struggling at the plate, scoring just seven runs and batting .172 in losing three of their last four games, prompting the club's co-chairman to say things were "getting ridiculous."

"We've got to start hitting," Steinbrenner said earlier in the day in Tampa, Fla. "They've got to start waking up."

Consider the Yankees wide awake.

Rodriguez scored four times, the last coming on his line-drive homer to right during the Yankees' season-high nine-run seventh inning. It was Rodriguez's 535th homer, moving him past Jimmie Foxx for 14th on the career list and within one of Yankees Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle.

So did Steinbrenner's edict have anything to do with the scoring outburst?

"I wish," Giambi said. "They could yell at us every day for all I care."

Milton Bradley and Chris Davis each hit two-run homers for the Rangers, who are 0-7 after taking the first two games of a three-game series. Josh Hamilton also drove in a pair of runs.

Edwar Ramirez (2-0) picked up the win in relief for the Yankees, whose bullpen pitched four scoreless innings after the Rangers chased former teammate Sidney Ponson.

Derek Jeter's run-scoring single in the eighth gave every Yankees starter a hit. Seven players in pinstripes drove in runs, including youngster Brett Gardner with his first career hit during New York's big seventh inning.

"All of a sudden their bats just woke up and we had nothing to neutralize them," Rangers manager Ron Washington said.

Giambi sparked New York's offense with one big swing in the third.

Johnny Damon was aboard with a one-out single when second baseman Ian Kinsler botched a fielder's choice grounder by Jeter. A-Rod walked to load the bases, and Giambi drove a 2-1 pitch from Luis Mendoza into the upper deck in right to give the Yankees a 5-3 lead.

It was Giambi's 18th homer of the year and 13th career grand slam, and the big designated hitter rewarded a standing ovation by stepping from the dugout and tipping his helmet.

"The kid just made a little mistake," Giambi said of the hanging sinker. "I'm glad I could come through tonight and pick up the ballclub a little."

Bradley and Davis put the Rangers back ahead in the sixth with their two-run homers, knocking Ponson from the game and giving Texas a 7-6 lead.

Short-lived, as it turned out.

Rangers relievers had given up just nine earned runs over their last 27 1/3 innings coming into the game, but they gave up that many in the seventh inning alone.

Bobby Abreu doubled and the next four batters also reached off reliever Warner Madrigal (0-1), who was making his big league debut. By the time Gardner drove in Robinson Cano, the Yankees had gone back on top 11-7.

"That's what our lineup is capable of," Gardner said. "Tonight we broke it open."

Starting in place of slumping center fielder Melky Cabrera, Gardner swiped second and scored on Damon's base hit. Abreu walked to reach base for the second time in the inning, and A-Rod lined a shot to right that never got much higher than the outfield wall.

Warner wound up with a forgettable debut: one-third of an inning, six runs, five hits and a walk.

"I told him, 'Keep your head up. It couldn't have been much worse," fellow Rangers reliever Jamey Wright said. "Looking at that lineup, it should happen every now and then."

Kinsler, who leads the American League in batting, singled and scored in Texas' three-run third to extend his hitting streak to 15 games.

Ponson, the rotund right-hander from Aruba whom the Rangers let go early last month because of off-field problems, gave up seven runs and nine hits in five-plus innings in his second start for New York.

"Well, we came in here and took two of three from New York," Washington said, putting a positive spin on an ugly night for the Rangers. "I don't think when we arrived here anybody gave us a chance to do that."

Game notes
Rangers SS Michael Young left the game after the third inning with a mild left groin strain. He's day to day. ... Brandon Boggs started in LF for Texas in place of struggling David Murphy. ... Rangers RHP Scott Feldman will skip a turn in the rotation and start Tuesday against the Angels.