ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Jameson Tallion pitched two-hit ball over eight innings, following Nestor Cortes to give the Yankees their longest consecutive starts in nine years and leading New York over the Tampa Bay Rays 2-0 Friday night.
Gleyber Torres put the Yankees ahead with a homer in the fourth off Jeffrey Springs (2-2) and Matt Carpenter, in his second game with New York, homered later in the inning.
New York opened a 6 1/2-game lead over the Rays by winning the first two games of the four-game series. The Yankees won their fourth straight following a season-worst three-game losing streak and improved to 33-13, the best start in the major leagues since the 2001 Seattle Mariners opened 34-12.
Taillon (5-1) improved to 5-0 with a 2.20 ERA in his last seven starts, striking out five and walking none while throwing 62 of 93 pitches for strikes. The 30-year-old right-hander had not gotten an out in the eighth inning since Aug. 7, 2018, for Pittsburgh at Colorado, when he pitched his second big league complete game.
Cortes threw eight-plus innings of one-run ball as New York won Thursday's series opener 7-2. Yankees starters had not pitched eight innings in consecutive games since CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova against Kansas City on July 9 and 10, 2013.
''A couple of the starters last night were like, hey, let's just all go seven or eight this series,'' Taillon said. ''''So I woke up feeling a little nervous, a little pressue there,
Taillon retired his first 12 batters before Randy Arozarena's leadoff single in the fifth. Manuel Margot stretched his hitting streak to 13 games with a sixth-inning double.
''Just another great performance from one of our starters,'' manager Aaron Boone said. ''I think they've been the best group, to this point, in the league, I caution that it's early and we've got to keep doing it, but I'm not surprised that they pitching as well as they are.''
Clay Holmes struck out two in a perfect ninth for his sixth save in six chances, extending his scoreless streak to 24 innings and finishing the game in 2 hours, 23 minutes.
New York has pitched six shutouts, one shy of the big league high.
''I guess we've been proving some people wrong and we might be proving the Yankees right for believing in us,'' Taillon said. ''I loved coming off the field tonight and having the whole group come out to greet me. It's really fun to be a part of.''
Torres led off the fourth with his eighth homer, one shy of his total for all of last season. One out later Carpenter hit first major league home run since April 30 last year.
''That was the thing that in the last couple seasons, towards the end of my career in St. Louis, was kind of the missing factor - I just wasn't hitting the ball hard,'' Carpenter said.
Carpenter signed with the Yankees on Thursday and got his second straight start due to Aaron Hicks remaining sidelined by right hamstring tightness. It was a blast deep into the right-field seats.
''Any time you go from your living room to the best team in baseball and to being in this clubhouse with this group of guys - it didn't take long for me to walk in here and realize that this is a really special group of guys,'' Carptener said. ''They got a good thing going. It's not just talent.''
Springs gave up two runs and five hits in six innings in his second major league start.
Tampa Bay has scored in only one of 18 innings against the Yankees.
''I didn't want to start the series off with two games like this,'' said Kevin Kiermaier, who went 0 for 4 and struck out twice, ''but sometimes you face a buzz saw, and Cortes and Taillon were lights out.''
The Yankees have a 2.91 ERA, third-best in the major leagues and down from 4.13 ERA at the end of last season.
Yankees: 3B Josh Donaldson (right shoulder inflammation) was placed on the 10-day IL retroactive to Tuesday. The 36-year-old third baseman had been on the COVID-19 IL and has not played since Sunday. Because the COVID-19 list does not count against the 40-man roster, the Yankees opened a roster spot by tranferring Chad Green (Tommy John surgery) to the 60-day IL. ... DH Giancarlo Stanton (right calf strain) has resumed hitting, and manager Aaron Boone said Stanton might spend the minimum 10 days on the IL. ... DJ LeMahieu was out of the starting lineup for the fifth consecutive game because of his left wrist, which had a cortisone shot.
RHP Gerrit Cole (4-1, 3.31) is to start Saturday for New York against RHP Corey Kluber (1-2, 4.42), who was 5-3 in 16 starts for the Yankees last season that included a no-hitter at Texas on May 19.
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