NEW YORK -- In one stunning inning, the New York Yankees appeared to exorcise three months of frustration.
"If there's a turning point in the season, this should be it," said Williams, who didn't take batting practice because of his sore shoulders. "This is incredible, especially this late in the game. I've never seen anything like this."
And with good reason: The 17-run turnaround matched the largest victory after trailing by eight runs in major league history. The Devil Rays led the Cleveland Indians 10-2 before losing 20-11 on May 5, 1999.
Williams put the Yankees ahead with a bases-loaded triple in the eighth, and Sheffield had a pair of three-run homers. Derek Jeter tied a career high with five hits and scored a career-best five runs.
The game mirrored New York's roller-coaster season - the Yankees have won seven of eight on this 13-game homestand after dropping nine of 12 on their last road trip.
Sheffield had seven RBI and Williams drove in five runs for New York, which trailed 10-2 after four innings. Yankees starter Randy Johnson lasted just three innings in his shortest outing in nearly five years, allowing seven runs.
"I had a sense in the dugout, let's see who we are, let's see what we are," manager Joe Torre said.
Sheffield, Alex Rodriguez and Hideki Matsui hit consecutive homers in the eighth, and Jorge Posada also connected for the Yankees in the inning, who had a 13-run second inning during a 19-8 victory over Tampa Bay on April 18.
"Just shocking," Tampa Bay's Jorge Cantu said.
Sheffield's three-run shot and Williams' RBI double in the fifth off Hideo Nomo began the comeback. Jeter homered in the sixth to make it 10-7, then the Yankees sent 16 batters to the plate in the eighth, a half-inning that took 35 minutes.
"I've never been a part of something like that, probably never be a part of it again," Jeter said.
Matsui greeted Travis Harper (1-6) with an RBI double. Jason Giambi was intentionally walked -- as the crowd chanted "Bernie Williams!" -- and Williams hit the first pitch over center fielder Damon Hollins' head for a triple to make it 13-11.
Posada then homered, and after Cano flied out, Jeter and Sierra singled.
Sheffield followed with his second three-run shot of the game to make it 18-11. Rodriguez hit his 20th homer and Matsui hit a drive into the black batters' eye in straightaway center field.
"It's unbelievable," Devil Rays catcher Kevin Cash said. "They just fed off each other. It's unbelievable to hit that many balls right on the nose that many times. That's really tough to do."
Buddy Groom (1-0), the fifth of six Yankees pitchers, worked 1 1/3 scoreless innings for the win. He induced a double play with the bases loaded in the eighth to keep the score 11-7.
In an outing that was as perplexing as it was brief, Johnson (7-6) opened looking as dominant as he was in his two previous outings, when he allowed just a run in 16 innings. He struck out the first two batters and got Aubrey Huff to ground out after giving up a single to Cantu.
But he started the second with a four-pitch walk to Eduardo Perez, who had two home runs against Johnson on April 19, and an out later gave up consecutive homers to Hollins and Cash, both landing well beyond the left-field wall and riling up the Yankees' fans.
Julio Lugo added an RBI infield hit -- the fifth straight batter to reach base -- to make it 5-0.
"The first surprise of the night was Randy getting whacked around," Torre said.
The Yankees got a run back in the bottom half on Giambi's ground-rule double and Williams' RBI single, but the Devil Rays made it 7-1 in the third when Perez led off with a single and Jonny Gomes homered.
It was the second time this season Johnson has allowed three home runs in a game after not giving up three in an outing since Aug. 15, 2000. He also gave up three at Boston on April 14.
The three innings was Johnson's shortest outing since Aug. 25, 2000, against the Mets for Arizona. He had not gone less than six innings in 14 starts for the Yankees.
"I took a giant step backward," Johnson said. "My location was off considerably. It was just one of those games you put to bed."
- Tiger Woods attended the game, two days after finishing second in the U.S. Open.
- Mike Stanton made his 992nd appearance, tying him with Lindy McDaniel for 10th on the career list.
- Lugo stole two bases.