Sonnanstine pitched eight innings of two-hit ball and Carlos Pena homered twice, leading Tampa Bay to a 9-1 rout of the lethargic Yankees on Friday night.
"I think our intensity was there. We just couldn't string anything together," New York leadoff batter Johnny Damon said.
Carl Crawford capped a huge month with two run-scoring hits, and the surging Devil Rays roughed up an ineffective Phil Hughes to win for the seventh time in eight games. Pena also drew three walks and had his second multihomer game in six days.
Appearing hung over from three straight wins over the rival Red Sox, New York botched an easy rundown play and mustered only Alex Rodriguez's RBI single in the fourth against Sonnanstine (4-9). After that, the rookie right-hander retired his final 14 batters.
"You have to give some credit to the kid. He mixed his pitches real well," Jorge Posada said. "He came after us. It seemed like we were behind in the count pretty much the whole game."
New York got plenty of help elsewhere, however. The Red Sox and Mariners lost, keeping the Yankees five games behind first-place Boston in the AL East and a game ahead of Seattle atop the wild-card standings.
Sonnanstine, who lost eight consecutive decisions earlier this year, allowed only an unearned run. He walked none and struck out five in the longest of his 17 major league starts.
"I was really using the fastball a lot tonight, and the off-speed pitches were breaking a lot and I was down in the zone," Sonnanstine said.
Grant Balfour walked one in a hitless ninth to finish it.
Fresh off a three-game sweep at Baltimore, the Devil Rays have won four straight road games for the first time since June 2004. They still own the worst record in the major leagues at 55-80, but they finished 16-14 in August for the eighth winning month in team history and second under manager Joe Maddon.
Greg Norton homered and drove in two runs, and Delmon Young added two RBIs for Tampa Bay, which improved to 4-1 on its seven-game road trip. The Devil Rays clinched their second winning road trip of the season and first of seven or more games since going 4-3 at Toronto and Boston in July 2005.
"It's not only about us being a spoiler, but to be battle-tested for years to come," Maddon said.
Considered one of the top prospects in baseball when he was called up from the minors this year, Hughes (2-3) hasn't lived up to the hype. He gave up five runs and seven hits in 4 1-3 innings, falling to 0-2 in his last four starts.
"Every start seems like it's something new," Hughes said. "It's not really the best time to go on a skid."
Yankees manager Joe Torre thought Hughes was a little tentative.
"It wasn't a good outing for him," Torre said.
One of the biggest surprises in baseball this season, Pena hit a leadoff homer in the fifth off Hughes and another solo shot in the sixth off Chris Britton for his 10th career multihomer game.
Pena also connected twice in Sonnanstine's 7-4 victory over Dan Haren and Oakland on Sunday and has seven homers in his last 12 games. The first baseman has 33 home runs this year, second in the AL to Rodriguez's 44, and 92 RBIs.
"This team is very capable. We can play against anybody," Pena said. "We are a very talented team."
Crawford hit a run-scoring single in the first and an RBI double in the eighth, making him the 27th major league player in the past 50 years to get 50 hits in a month. He batted .388 in August.
- Pena is one homer shy of the single-season club record held by Jose Canseco (1999) and Aubrey Huff (2003).
- Tampa Bay's four-game winning streak matches a season high.
- The Devil Rays went 13-12 in June 2006 under Maddon.
- The Yankees were trying to move a season-high 17 games over .500.
- New York's makeup game Sept. 24 against Toronto was switched from a 7:05 p.m. start to 1:05 p.m.
- Yankees rookie RHP Joba Chamberlain was suspended for two games and fined $1,000, a day after he threw consecutive 98-99 mph pitches over the head of Boston's Kevin Youkilis.
- New York, which had won six straight at home, dropped to 32-12 in its past 44 games at Yankee Stadium.