"I think it's fun winning -- bottom line," Perez said after homering twice, including to tie it in the bottom of the ninth, and driving in three runs to help the Devil Rays rally for a 4-3 victory in 11 innings Tuesday night.
"We already know what it is to lose, and we were pretty good at it the first half of the season," the son of Hall of Famer Tony Perez added. "Right now, we're learning how fun it is to win, and we're learning how to win in many ways."
Jonny Gomes walked with the bases loaded in the 11th to give Tampa Bay its eighth victory against New York this year.
The Devil Rays improved to 19-12 since the All-Star break and snapped New York's five-game winning streak. After winning 15 of 19 games between the teams in 2004, the Yankees are 4-8 against Tampa Bay this season.
"It was a very disappointing loss," Yankees manager Joe Torre said.
The Devil Rays rallied from a 3-0 deficit against Randy Johnson and Mariano Rivera to force extra innings, then loaded the bases in the 11th with Carl Crawford's double off Alan Embree (1-5) and two walks, including Scott Proctor's intentional pass to Aubrey Huff.
Proctor, whose balk sent Crawford to third base after the reliever replaced Embree, walked Gomes on four pitches to end the game.
Torre didn't second-guess his decision to walk Huff intentionally to get to Gomes, who struck out his three previous three at-bats.
"It's not an enviable position, but you still have to do a better job," Torre said. "He has a chance to get somebody out if he throws it down the middle. If he walks, you can't."
Chad Orvella (2-2) threw two scoreless innings for the win.
Johnson, who skipped a scheduled start last Thursday because of a bad back, allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings. He struck out seven and walked two, leaving with a 3-2 lead that Rivera could not protect.
Perez's fourth homer against the Yankees this season made it 3-all with one out in the ninth. He also homered for the third time this year off Johnson, hitting a two-run shot off the Yankees ace in the sixth.
The blown save was Rivera's second in three outings following a stretch in which he earned 31 in a row. The homer was only the second he has allowed this season, with Boston's Jason Varitek hitting the other on April 5.
"I'm not perfect, and today was tough. We should have won the game, but I didn't do my job," Rivera said. "It was just one pitch, but there was no margin for error."
Hideki Matsui singled to drive in two unearned runs off right-hander Doug Waechter in the first inning. John Flaherty added an RBI single in the second for a three-run lead that Johnson held until Perez homered on a 3-0 pitch with two outs in the sixth.
The two-run shot gave Perez four hits in six at-bats against Johnson this year. He also homered twice off the Big Unit in Tampa Bay's 6-2 victory at Yankee Stadium on April 19.
While Flaherty's RBI single made it 3-0, the Yankees wasted an opportunity to drive Waechter from the game in the second when Robinson Cano grounded into a force play, Gary Sheffield struck out and Alex Rodriguez grounded out -- all with the bases loaded -- to end the inning.
The Yankees had the Devil Rays starter in trouble again when Tino Martinez doubled with one out in the third. Bernie Williams followed with a single, but Waechter escaped when Martinez was thrown out at the plate trying to score on Williams' hit.
Johnson also settled down after a shaky start, allowing two singles and a walk before bailing himself out of a bases-loaded jam in the first by getting Huff to ground into an inning-ending double play.
The left-hander retired eight straight batters after Nick Green singled with one out in the third. Green singled again, leading off the sixth, and Perez homered three batters later to get the Devil Rays back in the game.
Waechter allowed three runs and nine hits in nine innings, the closest Tampa Bay has come all season to a complete game.
- Devil Rays SS Julio Lugo was scratched from the lineup. He jammed his left hand sliding into second base Monday night; however the injury is not believed to be serious. Regular 3B Alex Gonzalez replaced Lugo at shortstop and committed two errors.
- Williams' second-inning double gave the Yankees center fielder a season-high five-game hitting streak.
- RHP Hideo Nomo, signed by the Yankees after being designated for assignment by Tamp Bay last month, suffered a setback Tuesday in his fourth start with Triple-A Columbus. He allowed six runs, five hits and five walks in a 9-0 loss to Norfolk.