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New York at Tampa Bay

Scoreboard
N.Y. Yankees (75-65)000000005570
Tampa Bay (85-53) «05010001x7140

Yankees' rally, sweep attempt fall short against Rays

CBSSports.com wire reports
  •  

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Scott Kazmir did his part to get the Tampa Bay Rays back on track.

The All-Star left-hander allowed one hit in six scoreless innings, and the Rays' bullpen weathered ninth-inning home runs by Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez to beat the Yankees 7-5 and avoid a three-game sweep on Thursday night.

Willy Aybar homered and drove in three runs for the AL East leaders, who avoided a three-game sweep and extended their lead in the division over second-place Boston to 3½ games. The Red Sox, who face Tampa Bay six times over the next two weeks, were idle.

The Yankees' slim playoff hopes were dealt another blow. They trail the Rays by 11 games in the division and Boston by 7½ in the wild-card race.

"It's good to keep them in our rear view mirror because they've played well against us," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "To lose three in a row here would not have been any fun at all."

Kazmir (11-6) limited the Yankees to Cody Ransom's fifth inning double, walked five and struck out seven, but a high pitch-count (98) prevented him from going deeper into the game. Ransom also singled off reliever Trever Miller in the seventh for New York's second hit.

Chad Bradford worked a scoreless eighth but Tampa Bay lost its bid for its 13th shutout of the season in the ninth when Jason Hammel gave up RBI single to Ransom, who finished 3-for-3, and home runs to Jeter and Rodriguez.

Jeter's three-run shot to right field moved him within four hits of tying Babe Ruth for second on the Yankees career hit list. Rodriguez followed with career homer No. 550 to trim New York's deficit to 7-5.

Dan Wheeler replaced Hammel and earned his 11th save in 14 opportunities, retiring Xavier Nady on a first-pitch fly ball.

"We can't look (at not gaining ground on the Red Sox). ... How many games do we have left? 22. We have to go out and do what we do," Rodriguez said.

"We're not looking at series. We're looking at games as must-win games, and that's the situation tomorrow. It's almost like college. Double-elimination and you go home. That has to be the approach. Urgent."

A-Rod homered for the third straight night, giving him 32 this season. He had 422-foot blast upheld in baseball's first use of instant replay on Wednesday night, but there was never a doubt Thursday night's 436-footer that also struck one of the catwalks that support the roof at Tropicana Field.

"I think it might have been the farthest one I've seen here. I truly do," Maddon said. "That was zero gravity right there."

Aybar capped a five-run second inning against Darrell Rasner (5-10) with a two-run single for Tampa Bay. He hit a solo homer in the fourth off Alfredo Aceves.

The Rays, who lost a series for the first time since the All-Star break, looked bad in dropping the first two games.

Maddon attributed the flat performances to the way the Yankees have been playing lately and uncharacteristic mistakes by the Rays -- not the pressure of being in a pennant race in September for the first time.

Tampa Bay improved the best record in the majors to 85-52, but is 6-9 against New York, one of two AL teams with winning marks against the Rays this year.

Kazmir walked four in the first three innings, including A-Rod twice. He didn't give up a hit until one out in the fifth when Ransom doubled on a fly ball to shallow right that fell in when Gabe Gross tried to make a shoestring catch.

"We gave them that 5-spot, and Kazmir has been tough on us all year. He shut us down for six innings, and it makes it difficult," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We had a few opportunities, not a lot, and we weren't able to capitalize."

Rasner, 0-3 in nine starts since last winning on July 12, allowed five runs and six hits in 1 1/3 innings. Aybar drove in the last two runs charged to the right-hander with a bases-loaded single off Aceves.

Gross, Jason Bartlett and Akinori Iwamura also had RBI during the five-run second against the Yankees starter.

"We had a chance to sweep them. That would have been big for us, but we didn't. You've got to move on," Girardi said.

"We need more than series. Obviously we need to string together a lot of wins. We've got a lot of ground to make up."

Notes

  • Since taking over for injured rookie All-Star third baseman Evan Longoria, Aybar has five homers and 16 RBI in 23 games.
  • The Yankees plan to recall OF Melky Cabrera from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Friday.
  • The Rays improved to 52-21 at home.
  • Yankees RF Bobby Abreu was scratched because of a jammed left wrist, suffered Wednesday night when he slid into second base on a ninth-inning stolen base. X-rays were negative and he is day-to-day.
  • New York also rested Hideki Matsui, who had been the designated hitter in 15 straight games after being activated from the 15-day disabled list on Aug. 19. He pinch-hit for Brett Gardner in the ninth and struck out.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Even his ninth-inning solo blast can't put a smile on Alex Rodriguez's face.  (AP)
Even his ninth-inning solo blast can't put a smile on Alex Rodriguez's face. (AP)

Players of the Game
New York

C. Ransom
AB 3
R 1
H 3
HR 0
RBI 1
Tampa Bay

W. Aybar
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 3
 
New York Yankees
Johnny Damon, LF4100112 .313
Derek Jeter, SS4113110 .294
Alex Rodriguez, 3B3111202 .315
Xavier Nady, RF4010111 .318
Jason Giambi, DH4000013 .247
Ivan Rodriguez, C4110010 .281
Robinson Cano, 2B4000011 .267
Cody Ransom, 1B3131100 .750
Brett Gardner, CF3000033 .182
   a- Hideki Matsui, PH1000011 .302
Totals34575610  
a-struck out for Gardner in the 9th
Batting
2B - Ivan Rodriguez (19, Hammel), Cody Ransom (2, Kazmir)
HR - Derek Jeter (9, Hammel), Alex Rodriguez (32, Hammel)
RBI - Derek Jeter 3 (66), Alex Rodriguez (91), Cody Ransom (6)
2-OUT RBI - Derek Jeter 3 (27), Alex Rodriguez (33)
SB - Alex Rodriguez (17, 2nd base off Kazmir/Navarro)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Brett Gardner 1
New York Yankees
Darrell Rasner (L,5-10) 1.1655210 5.43
Alfredo Aceves 5511241 1.29
Chris Britton 1.2311200 3.93
IBB - Aybar by Chris Britton
WP - Darrell Rasner (4)
Pitches-Strikes - Darrell Rasner 43-25, Alfredo Aceves 97-61, Chris Britton 28-19
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Darrell Rasner 1-2, Alfredo Aceves 2-9
Batters Faced - Darrell Rasner 12, Alfredo Aceves 22, Chris Britton 9
Tampa Bay Rays
Akinori Iwamura, 2B5221021 .279
B.J. Upton, CF3111102 .272
Carlos Pena, 1B2000311 .246
Cliff Floyd, DH5020014 .279
Willy Aybar, 3B4123103 .250
Eric Hinske, LF4110002 .252
    Justin Ruggiano, LF1000003 .193
Dioner Navarro, C5140003 .297
Gabe Gross, RF3111102 .243
Jason Bartlett, SS3011014 .279
Totals35714765  
Batting
2B - Cliff Floyd (12, Britton), Dioner Navarro (23, Aceves), Gabe Gross (13, Rasner)
3B - Akinori Iwamura (7, Britton)
HR - Willy Aybar (9, Aceves)
SF - B.J. Upton (7), Jason Bartlett (4)
RBI - Akinori Iwamura (41), B.J. Upton (64), Willy Aybar 3 (26), Gabe Gross (37), Jason Bartlett (26)
2-OUT RBI - Willy Aybar 3 (12)
Team LOB - 12
Tampa Bay Rays
Scott Kazmir (W,11-6) 6100570 2.99
Trever Miller 1100020 4.38
Chad Bradford 1100000 2.12
Jason Hammel 0.2455112 4.71
Dan Wheeler (S,11) 0.1000000 2.58
Pitches-Strikes - Scott Kazmir 98-56, Trever Miller 15-12, Chad Bradford 12-10, Jason Hammel 20-13, Dan Wheeler 1-1
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Scott Kazmir 6-5
Batters Faced - Scott Kazmir 24, Trever Miller 4, Chad Bradford 4, Jason Hammel 7, Dan Wheeler 1
Game Information
Attendance - 26080
Game Time - 3:20
Temperature - 72
Umpires - Home - Jerry Layne, First Base - Charlie Reliford, Second Base - Brian Runge, Third Base - Greg Gibson