The New York Yankees beat the Texas Rangers 7-2 to fend off elimination in the American League Championship Series and keep their hopes of a World Series title repeat alive.
Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano hit back-to-back home runs as the Yankees built an early cushion and starting pitcher CC Sabathia made sure the lead stood up.
The Rangers still lead the best-of-seven series three-games-to-two, and will have a chance to close out the Yankees and reach the World Series for the first time when the series returns to Texas for game six and, if necessary, seven.
"We knew it was do or die," said Swisher, who led off the third inning with a deep drive to left field.
"We never feel like we're out of anything and that's a great attitude to have."
Cano, batting in place of injured slugger Mark Teixeira, followed Swisher with his fourth homer of the series, giving the Yankees a 5-0 lead.
Rangers slugger Nelson Cruz made an early exit with hamstring trouble, a day after the Yankees lost Teixeira for the remainder of the postseason with a hamstring injury.
All-Star first baseman Teixeira was removed from the postseason roster and replaced by Eduardo Nunez, and will not be eligible to return if the Yankees rally to reach the World Series.
The series resumes on Friday, when the Yankees will send Phil Hughes to the mound and the Rangers give the ball to Colby Lewis.
Rangers ace Cliff Lee would start game seven against Andy Pettitte.
The Yankees are trying to dig out of their first 3-1 postseason hole since 1958.
Since the league championship series went to the best-of-seven format, 24 of the 30 prior teams to take 3-1 leads have emerged triumphant.
"There was a determination," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We have not played extremely well in this series, to say the least."
The Rangers have never made it to the World Series in their 50-year history. In fact, they had never won a playoff series until this postseason.
"It's not disappointing," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of their inability to clinch. "It's a seven-game series."
Rangers starter CJ Wilson appeared to struggle with a rain-muddied mound.
Wilson threw just 48 of 93 pitches for strikes, giving up six runs - five earned - six hits and four walks in six innings.
He issued a pair of walks, surrendered run-scoring singles to Jorge Posada and Granderson and saw another run score on right fielder Jeff Francoeur's error in the second frame.
While Sabathia rebounded from an erratic outing in the series opener, in which he lasted just four innings, the Rangers bats threatened throughout.
Sabathia allowed two runs and 11 hits in six innings with no walks. He was able to work his way out of trouble in the sixth, when the Rangers loaded the bases with one out.
Matt Treanor, who had homered in the fifth for the Rangers, scored one of those base runners with a ground ball.
But Sabathia struck out Mitch Moreland in an eight-pitch at-bat.
Yankees reliever Kerry Wood struck out three in two scoreless innings and closer Mariano Rivera finished off the victory.
"We're right where we need to be," Swisher said.