Johnson became the third pitcher in major league history with 4,400 strikeouts and Johnny Damon hit a grand slam Thursday night, leading the New York Yankees to a 10-5 victory and consecutive wins on the road for the first time this season.
Johnson (5-2) won his third straight decision despite the third subpar performance in his last four outings. The left-hander allowed five runs and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings, including Ty Wigginton's two-run homer that gave Tampa Bay a 5-4 lead.
"I expect to pitch extremely well every time out. Everybody expects me to pitch well, and I'm fine with that. I'm not going to," Johnson said. "When my team picks me up like they have the last couple of games, I'm very grateful, as any pitcher would be."
With owner George Steinbrenner watching part of the game from his suite at Tropicana Field, the Yankees rallied three times to help Johnson end a three-game losing streak against the Devil Rays -- the Big Unit's third-longest skid against an opponent.
Damon hit his fifth career grand slam in the eighth after the Yankees filled the bases against Dan Miceli on an error and two walks. Hideki Matsui hit a solo homer off Tampa Bay starter Doug Waechter in the second.
In sweeping the two games, the Yankees claimed their first series away from Yankee Stadium after going 0-4-1 in the first five.
Johnson became the third pitcher to reach the 4,400-strikeout plateau when he fanned Nick Green in the fourth inning. He trails Nolan Ryan (5,714) and Roger Clemens (4,502) on the career list.
"Would I rather win and pitch poorly? Well, at this stage of my career, wins mean more than anything on this team," said Johnson, who beat the Devil Rays for the first time since he was with Seattle in 1998.
Tampa Bay had beaten him three straight times over six starts with Seattle, Arizona and the Yankees. Only Detroit (six) and Baltimore (four) have had longer stretches of success against Johnson.
"He knows what we expect of him. He knows what his teammates look for when he pitches," New York manager Joe Torre said. "The only thing you can do is keep working and keep battling, and I saw that tonight."
The Yankees have trailed in each of their last 10 games, but have rallied to win seven of them.
Johnson gave up an RBI double to Jonny Gomes in the first and fell behind 3-1 in the third when Wigginton and Carl Crawford singled to drive in runs. But every time Tampa Bay scored, New York responded.
Matsui hit his fourth homer of the season in the second, ending a stretch of 19 consecutive games without one. He also singled in the fifth to begin the three-run rally that chased Waechter.
Robinson Cano drove in the first run of the inning with a double into the right field corner. Williams finished the Devil Rays starter with a two-run single that put the Yankees ahead 4-3.
Tampa Bay regained the lead on Wigginton's ninth homer, but the bullpen couldn't hold it.
Gary Sheffield, who sat out the previous three games with a bruised left wrist, began New York's seventh-inning rally with a two-out, pinch-hit single off Brian Meadows and Damon followed with a single off Orvella.
Orvella walked Derek Jeter to load the bases, then walked Giambi on a 3-2 pitch to force in the tying run. Shawn Camp replaced Orvella and plunked Rodriguez with a breaking ball to put Yankees in front for good.
"It's frustrating," Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon said of his team's struggling bullpen.
"But I've watched these guys. One night they're very good, and then the other night they're not as good, so you know it's in there. ... I'm not going to give up on these people."
- Matsui had gone 78 at-bats without a homer. He has homered three times in 20 career at-bats against Waechter.
- After attracting the two smallest home crowds in franchise history (7,295 and 7,147) against Texas on Monday and Tuesday, the Devil Rays drew 17,059 and 22,164 for the Yankees series.
- After the game, the Devil Rays optioned 3B Sean Burroughs to Triple-A Durham and designated INF Nick Green for assignment. Miceli will be placed on the 15-day disabled list with shoulder soreness. The team plans to activate 3B Aubrey Huff (left knee sprain) and SS Julio Lugo (abdominal strain) from the DL on Friday.