|Tampa Bay (61-42) «||0||6||0||0||1||0||3||0||0||10||12||0|
|N.Y. Yankees (54-49)||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||2||3||6||11||2|
NEW YORK -- Up by nine runs in the late innings, the Tampa Bay Rays wound up needing their closer to finish off this latest victory.
"It's not always an oil painting," manager Joe Maddon observed.
Masterpiece or not, here's a portrait of a winning team: From last place a month ago to now leading the tough AL East.
The Rays have won 20 of 23 and took sole possession of the division lead for the first time since June 10, 2012. Recently seven games behind, Tampa Bay moved a half-game ahead of Boston.
"Of course there's gratification in it, but there's no complacency," Maddon said. "It's always good to validate what you're doing."
"We were playing such a great game tonight. Not a good game, a great game," Maddon said. "Unfortunately, we let them up a little."
"You don't want an under-duress moment after you're up 10-1 and have to sweat one out," he said. "That's not cool."
Well supported all season, Hellickson (10-3) won his sixth straight decision. Fernando Rodney, the Rays' fourth pitcher in a three-run ninth, got the last out for his 25th save.
"It's not hard to win games when I'm getting eight, nine, 10 runs a game," Hellickson said.
Trying to add power, the Yankees acquired Soriano from the Chicago Cubs before the game, trading a minor league pitcher to get the seven-time All-Star and lots of cash to cover much of his contract.
Soriano got his chance to make a sudden impact, batting with the bases loaded, two outs in the third and the Yankees trailing 6-1. With Tampa Bay's infield overshifted to the left side, he ran the count full before lofting a routine fly to right that ended the inning.
The 37-year-old Soriano, who began his career with the Yankees in 1999 and drew a big ovation in his return, went 0 for 5, scored once and drove in a run. He got an RBI with a bases-loaded forceout in the ninth.
"It's a good day for me today to have a chance to put on the uniform again," he said.
"I hope we have a better chance tomorrow," he said. "It's a tough day tonight."
Soriano did more on defense, catching a fly to start the game, making a throw that helped nail a runner and running down a foul ball.
Hellickson gave up one run and four hits in six innings, retiring his last nine batters and sending the Yankees to their seventh loss in 10 games. He also flashed a fast glove, snaring Ichiro Suzuki's liner right in front of his face.
Sabathia (9-9) was booed early and was hit hard for the third straight start, allowing 22 runs over 14 innings in that span. He got a true Bronx cheer when he struck out Loney while escaping a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the third.
Sabathia joined Chien-Ming Wang as the only Yankees pitchers since 1935 to allow at least seven runs in three straight starts.
"I feel like throughout my career I've been able to kind of avoid and pitch out of the big innings. Here lately I haven't been able to make a pitch," he said.
"We're right in the middle of this thing and if I can help us out, I feel like we would be doing a lot better. But getting no help from me is making it tough," he said.
The Rays have been particularly prickly for Sabathia. He is just 4-11 in 23 starts against them, including four this season, since joining the Yankees.
A two-out walk to eighth-place hitter Jose Lobaton set up Sam Fuld's RBI single in the second and Desmond Jennings followed with a bunt single that catcher Austin Romine threw away for another run. Longoria delivered a two-run double and scored on Wil Myers' single.
Loney had an RBI single in the fifth and hit a three-run homer in the seventh off Adam Warren.
|James Loney homers and drives in four runs as the Rays rout starter CC Sabathia and the Yankees. (USATSI)|
|Players of the Game|
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|Desmond Jennings, CF||4||1||1||0||1||1||0||.268|
|Evan Longoria, 3B||4||1||1||2||0||2||0||.276|
|a-Kelly Johnson, PH-3B||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.251|
|Wil Myers, DH||5||1||2||1||0||2||0||.325|
|Ben Zobrist, 2B||4||1||1||0||1||1||1||.268|
|Sean Rodriguez, RF||3||1||2||0||0||0||1||.266|
|b-Matt Joyce, PH-RF||0||1||0||0||2||0||0||.240|
|Yunel Escobar, SS||4||1||1||1||1||0||3||.246|
|James Loney, 1B||5||1||2||4||0||1||6||.317|
|Jose Lobaton, C||4||1||1||0||1||1||6||.259|
|Sam Fuld, LF||4||1||1||1||0||0||4||.200|
|a-grounded into a double play for Longoria in the 8th|
|b-walked for S. Rodriguez in the 7th|
|2B - Evan Longoria (23, Sabathia), Ben Zobrist (23, Sabathia), Sean Rodriguez (7, Sabathia), Yunel Escobar (16, Sabathia), Jose Lobaton (9, Warren)|
|HR - James Loney (10, Warren)|
|RBI - Evan Longoria 2 (58), Wil Myers (22), Yunel Escobar (40), James Loney 4 (50), Sam Fuld (12)|
|2-OUT RBI - Evan Longoria 2 (26), Wil Myers (11), James Loney 4 (24), Sam Fuld (4)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|Jeremy Hellickson (W,10-3)||6||4||1||1||2||3||0||4.48|
|Jake McGee (H,20)||0.1||0||0||0||0||0||0||4.42|
|Fernando Rodney (S,25)||0.1||0||0||0||0||0||0||4.01|
|WP - Jeremy Hellickson (6)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Jeremy Hellickson 102-57, Kyle Farnsworth 12-7, Cesar Ramos 30-18, Jamey Wright 20-11, Jake McGee 7-4, Fernando Rodney 6-3|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jeremy Hellickson 7-8, Kyle Farnsworth 2-0, Cesar Ramos 1-2, Jake McGee 1-0, Fernando Rodney 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Jeremy Hellickson 24, Kyle Farnsworth 3, Cesar Ramos 7, Jamey Wright 5, Jake McGee 1, Fernando Rodney 1|
|New York (A.L.) Yankees|
|Brett Gardner, CF||5||1||2||0||0||0||0||.282|
|Ichiro Suzuki, RF||3||0||0||0||0||0||1||.274|
|Melky Mesa, RF||2||1||2||1||0||0||0||.333|
|Robinson Cano, 2B||2||0||0||0||1||1||0||.299|
|David Adams, 2B||2||0||2||2||0||0||0||.205|
|Alfonso Soriano, LF||5||1||0||1||0||0||4||.251|
|Lyle Overbay, 1B||3||0||1||0||0||1||0||.248|
|a-Chris Stewart, PH-1B||2||0||1||1||0||0||2||.237|
|Eduardo Nunez, SS||3||0||0||0||1||0||1||.230|
|Travis Hafner, DH||4||0||0||0||0||2||2||.205|
|Brent Lillibridge, 3B||4||2||2||0||0||0||2||.133|
|Austin Romine, C||3||1||1||1||1||1||2||.198|
|a-doubled for Overbay in the 8th|
|2B - Melky Mesa (2, Ramos), Chris Stewart (4, Ramos)|
|RBI - Melky Mesa (1), David Adams 2 (11), Alfonso Soriano (52), Chris Stewart (16), Austin Romine (5)|
|2-OUT RBI - Chris Stewart (5)|
|Team LOB - 8|
|Outfield Assists - Alfonso Soriano 1|
|DP - Nunez-Adams-Overbay|
|E - Eduardo Nunez (6, Misplayed grounder), Austin Romine (1, Throwing)|
|New York (A.L.) Yankees|
|CC Sabathia (L,9-9)||5||9||7||7||3||6||0||4.65|
|WP - CC Sabathia (3)|
|Pitches-Strikes - CC Sabathia 102-65, Adam Warren 76-43|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - CC Sabathia 2-6, Adam Warren 5-5|
|Batters Faced - CC Sabathia 26, Adam Warren 18|
|Attendance - 44486|
|Game Time - 3:44|
|Temperature - 79|
|Umpires - Home - Bob Davidson, First Base - Jim Reynolds, Second Base - John Hirschbeck, Third Base - James Hoye|