NEW YORK (AP) Gerrit Cole struck out eight in six strong innings, Juan Soto went 4 for 4 and the New York Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays 6-1 on Friday night.

Cole (3-1), making his sixth start since returning from right elbow inflammation on June 20, allowed one run and six hits on a night fans received a promotional bobblehead of the 33-year-old right-hander holding his Cy Young Award. He walked one and threw 103 pitches - reaching the 100 mark for the second straight outing.

“I had a little bit of everything working and then once we got a lead I started attacking the zone,” said Cole, who is 3-0 with a 2.95 ERA in his last four outings.

“Just a great way to come out of the All-Star break and set the tone for us where our ace goes out and gives up one run in six innings to set the tone for us,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “I thought he was sharp and I thought he had a lot of different ways to get you out tonight.”

Soto reached base five times and continued his personal success against Tampa Bay starter Zach Eflin (5-7) with three hits, including a bunt single in New York’s four-run third and a double in the inning when he scored after two Rays errors. Soto is hitting .500 (17 for 34) off Eflin, whom he faced often when the right-hander was with the Phillies and he was with Washington.

“I don’t know,” Soto said of his success off Eflin. “I just see mistakes. So I think he’s made a couple of mistakes and I just hammered it.”

Soto added his fourth hit of the game, leading off the sixth with a double off Shawn Armstrong. He scored on an RBI single by Aaron Judge.

Soto had his second four-hit game since joining the Yankees in a December trade from the Padres. It was the right fielder’s ninth career four-hit game and his average climbed from .295 to .303. In his first chance at getting a fifth hit, Soto drew a walk in the eighth.

“It’s worth the price of admission to say the least,” Cole said. “What a magnificent hitter. And then even in the last at-bat, not giving in and staying disciplined with his approach and seeing quality pitches. The fact that two balls are slugged to the opposite field and he drops a bunt. He’s got it all.”

It was the 60th time Soto reached base multiple times, tied with Judge for the most in the majors.

“He was on it all night,” Boone said.

Anthony Volpe hit a bases-clearing double in a four-run third inning off Eflin and had his first multi-hit game since June 28.

The Yankees took a 1-0 lead on Alex Verdugo’s grounder after two walks and a bunt single by Soto loaded the bases. After Austin Wells kept the inning going with a walk, Volpe lined a 1-2 curveball down the left field line for a 4-0 lead.

Soto got his third hit in the fourth, a double to the warning track in left-center. Left fielder Randy Arozarena bobbled the ball enabling Soto to take third and Soto scored on a throwing error by second baseman Richie Palacios.

Brandon Lowe homered in the sixth for the Rays, who went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position. Tampa Bay is 1 for 41 with runners in scoring position in its last four games.

“Gerrit’s Cole really, good,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. “We’ve seen him for many seasons now. It seems like he gets better when guys get on base.”

Eflin allowed five runs, four earned, and seven hits in five innings. The 30-year-old righty struck out five and tied a career high by issuing four walks.

“I was missing by half an inch, an inch,” Eflin said. “They put some good ABs on me and capitalized when they needed to.”


Cole also avoided getting ejected in the second after arguing with plate umpire Quinn Wolcott, who charged him with a pitch clock violation for taking too long to warm up.

Cole engaged in a brief heated argument with Wolcott before Boone came out to intercede. After the violation, he fell behind 3-0 before retiring Josh Lowe.

“To be honest, I don’t really think I gave him a chance to talk,” Cole said. “I didn’t agree with it and I did lose my composure and quite frankly I thought Quinn didn’t and I’m thankful he kept me in the game.”


Rays: 3B Yandy Díaz missed the game due to personal reasons. ... RHP Jeffrey Springs (elbow) will start for Triple-A Durham on Saturday. … RHP Drew Rasmussen (elbow) will start for Triple-A Durham on Sunday.

Yankees: DH Giancarlo Stanton (strained left hamstring) ran the bases and took swings in the batting cage. … INF Jon Berti (strained left calf) had a minor setback and will receive a platelet rich plasma injection Saturday. … RHP Clarke Schmidt (right lat strain) will throw 15 to 20 pitches off a mound on Saturday.


Tampa Bay RHP Taj Bradley (4-4, 2.90 ERA) opposes New York LHP Nestor Cortes (4-8, 3.67) on Saturday afternoon.



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