David Price struck out eight over five scrappy innings to become the AL leader in wins and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the New York Yankees 7-3 on Thursday night to avert a three-game series sweep.
Price finished his night by retiring two of the Yankees’ most dangerous hitters with the bases loaded. Alex Rodriguez struck out after an 11-pitch at bat and Robinson Cano grounded out in six more, ending New York’s best threat to cut into a four-run lead.
CC Sabathia struck out 12 and matched a season high with 121 pitches for the Yankees, who lost for the fourth time in their last 14 and went 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position to lower their average in such situations to .218.
The Yankees got the tying run to the plate with two outs in the eighth inning. Pinch-hitter Raul Ibanez singled in a run against Joel Peralta to make it 5-2, bringing up pinch-hitter Eric Chavez, who grounded out to first with two on.
Russell Martin added a solo shot in the ninth for New York.
Price (8-3) never seemed to find a rhythm against the Yankees. He walked four and gave up one run and three hits in his shortest appearance since lasting only three innings at Boston in his second start. But he stranded seven runners in those five innings – four in scoring position.
His 38-pitch fifth inning – as harrowing as it was – may have been his best.
Chris Stewart hit a leadoff single, Derek Jeter walked and Curtis Granderson struck out before Teixeira walked, loading the bases for Rodriguez. He began swinging outside the batter’s box as the theme from ”Jaws” played and the Rays huddled on the mound.
Fans stood and cheered, then got louder with each pitch Rodriguez fouled off as he worked the count full. After A-Rod fouled off five of them, Price got him to swing and miss on a breaking ball that curved into the far lower corner of the strike zone, and Rodriguez stormed back to the dugout, talking to himself as boos rained down.
With the air let out of the stadium, Cano grounded out to second to end the inning. Cano fell to 1 for 12 with the bases full this season. Rodriguez is 1 for 10.
Earlier, Rodriguez made a two-base throwing error during the Rays’ two-run third inning, sailing the ball over Teixeira’s head at first base on Elliot Johnson’s one-out grounder The miscue led to two unearned runs, with Ben Zobrist singling home Johnson and scoring on B.J. Upton’s sacrifice fly for a 3-1 lead.
The Rays scored twice in the ninth, too. Nick Swisher mishandled Drew Sutton’s double in right, allowing Matt Joyce to score, and Johnson doubled home Sutton.
Sabathia (7-3) got the worse end of the untidy pitchers’ duel. He allowed three earned runs, seven hits and a walk in seven innings.
With the Yankees, Sabathia has won three of his 16 starts against the Rays. He was 7-1 against in 11 starts against them before signing with New York before the 2009 season.
Sabathia outpitched Price in May for the first time in six career matchups between the All-Star lefties, but Thursday night represented a return to the previous results.
Sutton hit a two-run double into the left-field corner in the fourth.
Jose Lobaton singled in the Rays’ first run, in the second. The Yankees tied it in the bottom half when Swisher came home on a groundout by Stewart after taking third on a wild pitch.
NOTES: The start of the game was delayed 26 minutes by rain, during which fans could take in an intensely bright rainbow that appeared beyond the center-field scoreboard, along with a faint secondary rainbow outside it and a few rarely seen narrower bands of color called supernumary rainbows inside the main one. … The Rays are set to make their first appearance at Miami’s new ballpark on Friday. They’ll have RHP Jeremy Hellickson going up against Marlins righty Ricky Nolasco. … Mets RHP Johan Santana makes his first appearance since pitching the first no-hitter in team history, going up against the Yankees and RHP Hiroki Kuroda in the opener of the first Subway Series of the season. This one is located by the 4 and D trains, in the Bronx. … Former Manchester United goalkeeper Raimond van der Gouw was on the field to watch batting practice before the game. It was the first major league baseball game attended by the Dutchman, who played for United from 1996-2002. … Rays SS Johnson made a fine diving stop on Cano’s grounder in the first inning, popped to his feet and made an even better throw to retire him by a step. He also bobbled a grounder for an error in the first. … Yankees starters had been 4-0 with a 1.64 ERA in the last five starts, their last full turn of the rotation.