2 games, 2 wins, 2 clinches for Yankees

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“He deserves it. It’s been a difficult year for him,” Jeter said.

That Posada got the hit made the clincher all the more memorable.

“Everybody was pulling for Posada,” Rivera said. “The whole stadium was pulling.”

Posada lost his catcher’s job during the offseason, and his role as a designated hitter diminished during the spring and summer.

Back in May, Posada had asked to be taken out of the lineup after he learned Girardi had dropped him to No. 9 in the batting order for a game against Boston. He returned the next day and apologized, and seemed to accept his role as a part-time designated hitter.

“It’s been a tough year, but I don’t look at the past, I look at the future. I look at the day by day. I keep looking forward,” Posada said.

Girardi also had Jeter and Alex Rodriguez on the bench, but he decided Posada was more used to pinch hitting at this stage. Posada faced Brandon Gomes, who allowed a grand slam to him last month.

“This is a guy who has been a great Yankee, has had a wonderful career and has had a lot of big hits in his time,” Girardi said. “He’s found a way to enjoy this season, which I think was really important. The thing about this game, we all want to believe we can play it forever.”

While New York (95-60) opened a comfortable lead over Central champion Detroit (90-65) for homefield throughout the AL playoffs, it was a damaging day for the Rays (85-70) as they missed a chance to move up on Boston (88-68) in the wild-card race. The Red Sox lost to Baltimore 6-4, but still extended their lead over Tampa Bay to 2 1/2 games. The Los Angeles Angels (85-70) also are 2 1/2 games behind.

“We feel lucky,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “We’re very fortunate that Baltimore has played as well as they have.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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