Laird outraced A-Rod in a rundown to score the go-ahead run in a three-run fifth inning, and the Rangers went on to rout the Yankees 14-2 Thursday.
"That," Mark Teixeira said, "might have been a game-changer right there."
Teixeira had four hits, including three doubles, and three RBI. Pinch-hitter Victor Diaz hit his first career grand slam as Texas scored 10 runs in the seventh and eighth innings against Chien-Ming Wang (1-3), Luis Vizcaino and Sean Henn to break open the game.
Before that, Brandon McCarthy (3-4) limited New York to one run in 5 1/3 innings.
Most agreed that the rundown was the turning point.
"If they get him out there, they might have stopped our momentum," Texas manager Ron Washington said.
With the score 1-all in the fifth, Texas took advantage of New York's fielding failures. Laird hit a leadoff triple on a catchable fly that dropped behind Bobby Abreu, who slowed as he neared the right-field wall. Kenny Lofton grounded out with the infield in, and Brad Wilkerson grounded sharply to third.
Rodriguez threw home, trapping Laird in a rundown, and Jorge Posada threw back to third. A-Rod faked a throw and then ran after Laird, choosing not to throw to Wang covering the plate. Laird dived home for a 2-1 lead, clipping A-Rod under the chin with his foot.
"When I turned around heading toward the plate, I saw somebody there but I figured I'd just keep going to see if they made a play," Laird said.
Teixeira and Sammy Sosa followed with consecutive RBI singles that made it 4-1. A-Rod wouldn't directly address what went wrong during the rundown.
"I have no idea. That was so long ago," he said, sounding like Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca.
New York had won its first five games this year against last-place Texas and 18 of 20 since July 2005. The Yankees (16-17) headed to Seattle following a 4-3 homestand, falling short of sweeping the season series and moving over .500 for the first time since before play on April 21.
"For the most part, I think we've been playing pretty good," Derek Jeter said. "We'd like to go 7-0 every homestand we play seven games but it's not going to happen."
Texas (14-20) set season highs for runs and hits (16). The Rangers entered with a .240 batting average, 12th among the 14 AL teams.
"We need to get our offense rolling or it's going to be a long season," Teixeira said.
McCarthy, who gave up five or more runs in each of his previous three starts, allowed five hits and threw a season-high 104 pitches. The only run off him was Melky Cabrera's tying homer in the third. Cabrera had gone 266 at-bats without a home run since last Aug. 10 when he connected off McCarthy, then with the Chicago White Sox.
"The most important thing was the changeup was there all day today when I needed it," McCarthy said. "I was able to throw it for strikes when I had to and out of the zone when I needed to. Usually when that is there, it's going to be a pretty good day."
Wang gave up seven runs and 11 hits in 6 1/3 innings, his ERA rising to 5.40. He began with 7 1/3 perfect innings against Seattle last Saturday but in this one his sinker didn't have much sink.
"I know you have to live up to yourself, but you certainly shouldn't expect another perfect game," Yankees manager Joe Torre said.
Vizcaino (7.50 ERA) was frustrated after allowing three runs, two hits and two walks while getting three outs. A television camera caught him knocking over cups in the dugout.
"I think right now I feel a little confused with my mechanics and my slider," he said. "I'll be OK."
Rangers closer Eric Gagne pitched a perfect ninth, his first action since straining a hip on April 22. ... Sosa had three hits, including a two-out RBI single in the first. ... Diaz had the fifth pinch-hit slam in Texas history and first since Hank Blalock on July 4, 2004, at Houston. ... New York DH Jason Giambi missed his second straight game because of a spur near his left heel. He saw a doctor, who relieved the pain with a new method of taping the foot. Giambi plans to play Friday. ... New York CF Johnny Damon left in the eighth after his right calf cramped again. ... Texas SS Michael Young didn't play after leaving Wednesday night's game in the fifth inning because of tightness in his right hamstring. He had appeared in 287 consecutive games since June 22, 2005, when he missed a game for the birth of his son.