Jeter held in check but Yankees still edge Rays

Derek Jeter got a standing ovation – when he came on the field for his pregame wind sprints. He didn’t give fans more to cheer about, failing to gain ground on Lou Gehrig.

Jeter went 0 for 4 and remained three hits behind the Iron Horse as the New York Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-1 in the opener of Monday’s day-night doubleheader. After a sparkling pitcher’s duel between CC Sabathia and Matt Garza, Robinson Cano hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in a three-run eighth inning.

“I think everybody’s excited,” Sabathia said, “and wants to see him get that record.”

Applauded ahead of every at-bat, Jeter stayed stuck at 2,718 hits. He did match another Yankees great – the first game was his 2,116st, tying Yogi Berra for third on the Yankees list behind only Mickey Mantle (2,401) and Lou Gehrig (2,164).

“I’m sure he wants to get this behind him so he doesn’t have to talk about it,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

Fading Tampa Bay lost its fifth straight, equaling its season high. Making matters worse, slugger Carlos Pena broke two fingers on his left hand when he was hit by a pitch in the first. Because he swung, he didn’t even get to take first base.

“I knew when the ball hit me it was going to be bad,” he said. “You don’t take a 95 mph fastball on the finger and live to tell about it – or the finger live to tell about it.”

Pena was to return to Florida and meet with the Rays medical staff before a determination was made whether he needs surgery. He leads the AL with 39 homers and finished with 100 RBIs.

“It’s very discouraging,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He was swinging the bat about as well as anyone I’ve seen this season.”

New York went ahead off Lance Cormier (2-2), dropping Tampa Bay’s bullpen to 2-9 since Aug. 6.

Nick Swisher walked leading off the eighth and took third when Mark Teixeira singled and Gabe Kapler bobbled the ball. Kapler then hit Swisher with the throw for an error that allowed Teixeira to advance. After an intentional walk to Alex Rodriguez, Cano hit a flyout to center that scored pinch-runner Jerry Hairston Jr. Chad Bradford allowed Jorge Posada‘s RBI single off the right-field wall and Eric Hinske‘s sacrifice fly.

“I didn’t catch the ball cleanly. Then it came up and bounced away,” Kapler said. “My responsibility. I should have handled it.”

Sabathia matched his season high with 10 strikeouts and allowed one run, three hits and four walks in seven innings. He is 6-0 with 2.31 ERA in eight starts since 6-2 loss at Tampa Bay on July 28.

Garza gave up only an unearned run, five hits and a walk in seven innings, striking out seven. Even though his opponents’ batting average of .233 coming in was the best in the AL, he is 0-2 in eight starts since July 24.

“All I can do is go out there and pitch as well as I can,” he said.

Phil Hughes (6-3) pitched the eighth and Mariano Rivera, out since Sept. 1 with a sore left groin, struck out two in finishing the three-hitter for his 39th save in 40 chances.

“It responded real well,” Rivera said. “I’m not worried about it.”

Rodriguez lined a two-out double past left fielder Fernando Perez in the first that scored Teixeira, who reached when second baseman Ben Zobrist misplayed his grounder for an error. Evan Longoria tied the score in the second with his career-best 29th homer, a drive into the first row of the right-field seats.

Brett Gardner, activated before the opener, made a sliding, backhand catch on Perez in right-center field in the fifth with a runner on first, saving a run. The speedy center fielder had been on the disabled list since breaking his left thumb on July 25

“It’s a different game if that ball falls,” Girardi said.


A.J. Burnett, 0-4 in seven starts since winning at Tampa Bay on July 27, was to pitch the second game for the Yankees against Andy Sonnanstine. … The doubleheader was caused by a June 5 rainout. … Posada caught Sabathia for the first time since Aug. 18. … Carl Crawford was thrown out by Posada trying to steal second on a pitchout in the eighth. Maddon argued – replays weren’t clear cut. … New York is 15-0 when tied after seven innings – the longest such streak at the start of a season in major league history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.