"Those guys over there are champs," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of the Yankees. "We didn't expect them to lay down."
The Rangers lead the best-of-seven series, three games to two. Game 6 is Friday in Texas. If necessary, Game 7 will be on Saturday.
As much postseason experience as the Yankees have, they entered the contest for only the third time in franchise history trailing a series 3-1. The most recent time was in the 1958 World Series, when they stormed back from that deficit to beat the Milwaukee Braves in seven games.
"We've got to climb out of a hole we got ourselves in," Yankees catcher Jorge Posada said after going 2 for 4 with a run scored and an RBI.
It helped that lefthander CC Sabathia pitched much better than he did during the Yankees' 6-5 win in Game 1, when he had no command and no decision, allowing five runs in four innings.
Sabathia wasn't Cliff Lee-like on Wednesday, but he held the Rangers to two runs in six innings, allowing 11 hits, but striking out seven and walking none.
"I think I was just trying to battle," Sabathia said. "I felt a lot sharper today than in Game 1."
A 21-game winner in the regular season, Sabathia has the ability to compete even without his best stuff.
"We had Sabathia bending but he didn't break," Washington said.
The Yankees, whose biggest lead in the first four games was one run, opened the scoring with three runs in the second inning.
Posada's RBI single started the scoring. Curtis Granderson followed with an RBI single to right field. Jeff Francoeur, attempting to get Posada at third, made an errant throw for an error that was backed up by pitcher C.J. Wilson.
Wilson would have nailed Posada at home with a good throw, but he heaved it over catcher Matt Treanor's head, allowing the third run to score.
Granderson who hit a solo home run in the eighth, was 3 for 4 with two RBIs.
The Yanks extended their lead to 5-0 on consecutive solo home runs by Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano in the third. Cano has hit four homers in the series.
He batted third in place of Mark Teixeira, who is out for the postseason after suffering a hamstring injury in Game 4.
"I feel good at the plate, but the bottom line is that you just won the game," Cano said. "If you didn't win, it wouldn't mean anything."
Texas outfielder Nelson Cruz left the game with tightness in his left hamstring in the fifth inning and is listed as day-to-day.
Treanor hit a solo homer in the fifth inning for Texas' first run, but the Yankees got it back on Lance Berkman's sacrifice fly. Earlier in the game, Berkman took a hard spill chasing a foul ball and looked a little woozy but stayed in the game.
Treanor's RBI groundout cut the Yankees lead to 6-2 in the sixth, but with runners on second and third, Sabathia struck out Mitch Moreland looking on a slider.
That was Sabathia's 112th and final pitch.
Kerry Wood continued his sterling postseason with two shutout innings. He allowed just one single, to Elvis Andrus, but later picked the Rangers shortstop off second base.
Mariano Rivera pitched a scoreless ninth, leaving the Texas champagne on ice.
Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.