Yankees 5, Rays 3

CC Sabathia twirled on the mound, gave a shout and violently

punched the air.

Far from a must-win, it certainly was a welcomed one for the New

York Yankees and their ace.

Sabathia outpitched David Price for the first time in six career

matchups between the All-Star lefties, Robinson Cano and Curtis

Granderson homered and the Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays 5-3

Thursday night.

”CC seems to be the big guy right now,” Yankees manager Joe

Girardi said.

Sabathia (5-0) struck out 10 as New York overcame a pair of

early errors by third baseman Eduardo Nunez and sent Tampa Bay to

its fourth loss in five games.

Sabathia punctuated his outing by fanning B.J. Upton with two

runners on base to end the seventh inning with the Yankees leading

5-2. The burly pitcher let loose, 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.

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. 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.

Price (5-1) never found a rhythm and gave up 11 hits, many of

them well tagged. 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,”

Price said. ”It’s a good hitting team. You make mistakes and they

hit them.”

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.

Nunez started in the field while Alex Rodriguez served as the

designated hitter. Nunez misplayed a grounder in the first and made

a wild throw in the second. He also singled twice, walked and stole

two bases, and was taken out after five innings with New York up

5-2.

Girardi said it was a ”tough night” in the field for Nunez,

adding the Yankees might have to re-evaluate how they use him on

defense.

Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher threw out a runner at the

plate to end the first. He singled to set up Cano’s go-ahead

homer.

NOTES: Yankees OF Brett Gardner (strained right elbow) had

swelling after a Triple-A game Wednesday and will not swing a bat

for 10 days. ”We’re going to be without Gardy for a while,”

Girardi said. Girardi estimated it could be 15 to 25 days, but

didn’t think it would be a ”three-month” absence. … Price had

allowed just six homers to lefty hitters in 613 2-3 career innings

coming into the game. … Robertson’s ninth-inning troubles

Wednesday night left him 1 for 2 in save tries since replacing

injured Mariano Rivera. ”I really believe this kid is going to

bounce back,” Girardi said. … Yankees reserve 3B-1B Eric Chavez

was eligible to come off the 7-day DL for concussions, but Girardi

said he hadn’t passed all the Major League Baseball tests. … 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 wound up 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.