Sports

Rays Overpower Sabathia

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Nick Swisher

By HOWIE RUMBERG  AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) _ Johnny Damon, Casey Kotchman and Kelly Shoppach
all connected in the third inning for three of Tampa Bay’s five
solo home runs against CC Sabathia, and David Price again came out
on top in a matchup of these elite lefties, lifting the Rays over
the New York Yankees 5-1 Friday night.

With a full moon looming over the famed Yankee Stadium frieze in
right field, light-hitting Elliot Johnson and Evan Longoria also
homered in Tampa Bay’s fifth straight win.

The five homers were the most Sabathia (16-7) has allowed in his
career. The Rays’ previous high for home runs in a game this season
was three.

Price (10-10) improved to 3-0 in the five times he’s faced
Sabathia, pitching eight dominant innings of six-hit ball.
More importantly for the Rays, who began a six-game trip against
the Yankees and Red Sox hoping to close a big gap in the AL East,
Price snapped a six-week skid in which he went 1-4 in eight starts.

The first inning should have felt familiar to Price, though.
Derek Jeter led off with a single against the lanky lefty. Hit No.
3,034 of Jeter’s career came with none of the fanfare that
accompanied his three knocks the last time he faced Price at the
ballpark in the Bronx. Jeter’s second hit on July 9 was a home run
for the milestone 3,000th.

Price benefited from some fine defense, too. Shoppach made a
difficult tag at home on a strong relay by second baseman Sean
Rodriguez to prevent a second run in the fourth. Rodriguez made a
diving stop in the eighth to start an inning-ending double play,
one of two DPs that Jeter hit into.

Kotchman was the first Rays player to hit the ball out of the
infield against Sabathia. His fly in the third landed in the second
deck in right field. Shoppach followed with a long homer to left,
the third time the Rays went back-to-back this season.

Sabathia then struck out two looking before Damon accomplished
what he had done plenty of times in four seasons with the Yankees:
He sent a high fly that just cleared the short porch in right
field.

The only other time Sabathia gave up three homers in an inning
was May 1, 2007, against Toronto when he was with Cleveland. He
hadn’t given up more than one home run in a game this season.
Sabathia followed his worst start of the year _ seven runs in
six innings against Boston _ by going eight innings and yielding
five runs and a season high-tying 10 hits. He struck out seven and
did not walk a batter.

The Yankees finally nicked Price in the fourth, when Robinson
Cano singled for New York’s first hit since Jeter led off with a
single. Nick Swisher walked and Andruw Jones hit a line-drive
double into the right-center gap, scoring Cano.

Swisher tried scoring from first but Rodriguez was on the money
with the relay and Shoppach blocked Swisher from getting a hand in
to touch the plate, keeping the score 3-1.

Rays manager Joe Maddon put righty-swinging Johnson in the
lineup as a “best guess” for beating Sabathia. Johnson, who had
struck out in 12 of his previous 22 at-bats _ including his first
Friday _ proved his skipper right. He led off the fifth with a
homer to left to restore the three-run lead.
Joel Peralta struck out the side in the ninth.

NOTES: Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez homered in his first at-bat for
Class-A Tampa, his first rehab game. He was the DH and also doubled
and struck out. … Rays RHP Alex Cobb (right hand discomfort) had
his surgery to remove a blockage in the area of his first right rib
postponed because he had a reaction to medication he was taking.
… Maddon said John Jaso (right oblique strain) is progressing
well in his rehab. “He’s been swinging the bat well. … Sounds
like he’s on schedule.” … Yankees general manager Brian Cashman
defended pitcher A.J. Burnett, whose name has been discussed as one
of the candidates for being dropped from the rotation when the
Yankees go to five starters, possibly after Sunday’s game. “I
think he’s being treated differently publicly because he has money
attached,” Cashman said of Burnett’s four-year, $82.5 million
contract. “The man can still pitch. The man is a starter. He can
still help us significantly.” Burnett is 0-3 in seven starts since
June 29. … Under Secretary of the Army Joseph W. Westphal was on
the field and in the Yankees clubhouse before the game.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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