ARLINGTON, Texas -- It was fitting that when Ruben Sierra had the go-ahead hit that finally put the New York Yankees back in first place, he got hurt and probably will wind up back on the disabled list.
Sierra injured his left hamstring on his two-run single in the eighth inning that gave the Yankees a wild 11-10 victory over the Texas Rangers on Monday night.
"He's huge because he's a wild card for you," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "He knows how to hit in situations. It was 3-2 there, he got an offspeed pitch, not a bad pitch, and hit it the other way. Hopefully, it's just the two weeks."
Kevin Brown struggled in his return to the rotation and Bernie Williams dropped a ball in center field that led to three runs, but Jorge Posada, Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui all homered before Sierra's hit into the left-center field gap off Doug Brocail (3-2).
Sierra was limping awkwardly when he got to first base, and didn't put any pressure on his left leg while being helped back to the dugout.
"I feel good to get the job done, but I feel bad that I got hurt," said Sierra, who was on the DL from April 21 to May 20 with a partially torn right biceps. "It's sore. I don't know how long it will be, I think it's strained. I don't think it's that bad."
New York won for the 11th time in 13 games and improved to a season-high nine games over .500 at 50-41, good for a half-game lead over Boston and Baltimore (both 50-42). The Yankees, whose 11-19 start was their worst since 1966, were nine games back after play on May 7.
"I can't explain how proud I am of this group of guys. They keep plugging away and keep battling," said Torre, who celebrated his 65th birthday. "It's quite a credit to their desire and focus and determination."
The Yankees, who have won seven straight division titles, had not been alone in first since beating the Red Sox in the April 3 season opener and had not held a share since after games of April 9, when they were tied with Tampa Bay and Toronto.
Brown, sidelined by a back injury since June 18, gave up three runs in the first inning but the Yankees scored six in the second and led 9-6 in the sixth before giving up four runs.
Williams called off Matsui, who was coming over from left, and dropped Hank Blalock's two-out fly in the sixth for an two-run error that tied the score. Former Yankee Alfonso Soriano, who had four hits and four RBI, followed with a single off Wayne Franklin that put the Rangers ahead.
"When he called Matsui off it, all of a sudden it moved on him," Torre said. "It was an ugly thing that happened."
Mariano Rivera worked the ninth for his 24th straight save conversion, the longest streak of his career within a single season. Since blowing his first two chances of the season against Boston, he has been perfect.
Tanyon Sturtze (3-1), the fourth Yankees pitcher, worked 2 1/3 innings.
New York went ahead with a six-run second that included Posada's 12th homer, a three-run drive that made it 4-3. Cano added an RBI single and Sheffield had a run-scoring double off Ricardo Rodriguez.
Sheffield's 20th homer, his fifth in seven games, came with one out in the fourth. Alex Rodriguez drew a walk before Matsui's 15th homer made it 9-5.
With three other starting pitchers still on the disabled list, Brown returned to the Yankees without a rehabilitation start. He lasted just 4 1/3 innings, giving up six runs and 10 hits -- two of them homers. He struck out three and walked none, throwing 53 of 82 pitches for strikes.
"I'm stiff, I'm not functioning very well. I'm just trying to build back up," Brown said. "I'm just trying to fill a need. It would have been great to take my time, but there are a lot of guys out right now."
Soriano was caught stealing for the first time this year when he overslid second base to end the sixth after beating Posada's throw. That was his second baserunning blunder in the game.
Soriano hit a drive in the first that ricocheted off the top of the wall in straightaway center. But he only got a long RBI single since he was watching the ball instead of running. He didn't initially get to second base, even on the relay throw home to get Blalock out, but then stole the base and scored on Kevin Mench's double.
"We did a lot of positive things ... It's hurtful for me personally to see the effort they made, even the guys who didn't necessarily do well statistically," Rangers manager Buck Showalter said. "They made a lot of great plays in a tough environment and were very close to succeeding."
- Rod Barajas hit his eighth homer for Texas.
- There was an announced crowd of 46,538, many of them Yankees fans. It is New York's only series in Texas this season.
- Brown had given up only two other homers, in his first start this season, April 17 at Baltimore.