By the time David Price found the right pitches, it was too late for the Tampa Bay Rays.
Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson homered off Price and the New York Yankees hit several other balls really hard, too, in a 5-3 win Thursday night that sent the Rays to their fourth loss in five games.
”I thought he was catching more of the plate,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. ”If you make those mistakes against that team over there they are going to make you pay for it.”
CC Sabathia outpitched Price for the first time in six career matchups between the All-Star lefties as the Yankees took the series from the AL East co-leaders.
Price (5-1) never found a rhythm and gave up 11 hits in seven innings. Trying to win five consecutive starts for the first time in his career, he instead wound up on the wrong end of another personal first – never before had two left-handed hitters homered off him in the same game.
”I made some good pitches tonight, they hit them, that’s it,” he said.
Price also made a throwing error to second base when wound up with a relay and then tossed the ball into center field, though that mistake didn’t cost him. Price retired his final seven batters.
The Yankees overcame a pair of early errors by third baseman Eduardo Nunez, with Sabathia settling into a groove to shut down Tampa Bay.
Sabathia (5-0) struck out 10, punctuating his outing by fanning B.J. Upton with two runners on base to end the seventh inning. The burly pitcher twirled on the mound, shouted and violently punched the air, catcher Chris Stewart pumped his fist and Upton pounded his bat in the ground after swinging over a slider.
”I was fired up I was going to make pitches to B.J. Upton,” Sabathia said.
Sabathia allowed two unearned runs in eight innings – the fourth straight start he’s gone exactly that long. He finished up by striking out Carlos Pena, who slung his bat all the way to the Tampa Bay dugout in disgust.
Pena hit an RBI single in the first and went 1 for 4, striking out twice.
Rafael Soriano gave up a run in the ninth for a save in his first try of the season. In 2010, he led the AL in saves with Tampa Bay.
Soriano yielded a single and an RBI grounder, a night after the Rays scored four runs in the ninth off fill-in closer David Robertson. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he wasn’t going to use Robertson for a third straight day, but was OK to do it with Soriano.
Sabathia appreciated the support from his hitters and relief. The 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner had won just twice in 14 starts against the Rays since putting on the pinstripes. Price had been a particular nemesis, too, with Tampa Bay winning all five previous times he faced Sabathia.
”I didn’t know that stat that I hadn’t beat him,” Sabathia said.
Granderson lined a solo shot into the second deck in right field in the second. Cano’s two-run drive in the fifth made it 4-2 and sailed far over the Yankees’ bullpen in right-center.
NOTES: Price had allowed just six homers to lefty hitters in 613 2-3 career innings coming into the game. … Rays OF Matt Joyce said he felt better and didn’t expect to miss any time after twisting his left ankle while hitting a go-ahead home run Wednesday night. Joyce fell down and sprawled across the plate, prompting Price to kid him. ”He said I need to work on my dismount,” Joyce said. Joyce didn’t start as the Rays went with mostly righty hitters vs. Sabathia. Joyce grounded out as a pinch hitter in the ninth. … Pena has struck out 23 times in 42 at-bats against Sabathia.