By HOWIE RUMBERG     AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) _ Matt Moore struck out 11 in five innings of his
first major league start and the Tampa Bay Rays unloaded on the
watered-down Yankees for a 15-8 victory Thursday, a night after New
York clinched the AL East title.

The Rays avoided a four-game sweep and pulled within two games
on idle Boston in the AL wild-card race. Both teams have six games

Before this game, New York catcher Russell Martin declared how
much he hated the Red Sox and would like to see them miss the
playoffs. Tampa Bay took advantage of four Yankees errors, two by
shortstop Derek Jeter, and romped.

B.J. Upton was a double shy of the cycle in four at-bats, Ben
Zobrist homered among his three hits and Johnny Damon also
connected for Tampa Bay. Facing a lineup of backups and rookies,
the Rays roughed up Bartolo Colon and led 13-0 in the fifth inning.
Seven players wearing No. 60 or higher played for New York.

Making a spot start in place of Jeff Niemann (back) in a key
September game for the Rays, Moore (1-0) calmly buzzed through five
innings on the big stage of Yankee Stadium. He allowed just four
hits and established a team record for strikeouts in a first start.
Wade Davis fanned nine Sept. 6, 2009.

The 22-year-old, who threw a no-hitter for Double-A Montgomery
on June 16, mixed a 97 mph fastball, changeup and sharp curveball
to earn his first big league win in front of his dad and four other
family members. This was his third game in the majors.
After wrapping up their 12th AL East title in 16 years

Wednesday, New York dialed it down a notch. Players did not have to
report until 5:30 p.m., an hour after batting practice usually
starts for a night game. And manager Joe Girardi rested Martin,
Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez, Brett Gardner, Robinson Cano and
made Mark Teixeira the designated hitter.

The Yankees that played were out of sync in the field. Along
with his errors, Jeter struck out twice before being replaced.
Colon (8-10) made New York’s postseason pitching plans even
murkier. He gave up seven runs _ five earned _ and seven hits in
three innings and is winless since July 30, a span of nine starts.

With CC Sabathia and youngster Ivan Nova the only starters to
lock up a postseason start, Girardi is looking for someone to
distinguish themselves in the final week. Phil Hughes has a bad
back and A.J. Burnett has struggled all season. Freddy Garcia will
have a chance to lock down the third spot this weekend against

Martin’s jibe aside, the Yankees have three games against the
Red Sox this weekend and three at Tampa Bay next week. Girardi has
to balance finding rest for a veteran lineup that has been plagued
by nagging injuries late this season with fielding a competitive
club as the wild card goes down to the wire.

“Our responsibility is to our club. That’s the bottom line,”
he said. “I have to make sure our guys are healthy and rested and
ready to go next Friday. … Obviously our goal is to get
home-field advantage, and the important thing to me about some of
these lineups is that we take care of our guys and have them ready
to play next Friday.”

They sure weren’t ready after the bubbly flowed late after the
doubleheader sweep Wednesday. The Rays were 1 for 20 with runners
in scoring position in the series entering the finale, but they had
three hits in those situations through two innings Thursday.

The Rays’ big inning came in a five-run fourth, when Upton and
Damon each hit two-run homers, eliciting boos from the crowd of
47,470. Zobrist connected in the third and went 3 for 3 with a
sacrifice fly after leaving six on base in the doubleheader.
Dane De La Rosa gave up six runs in 1 1-3 innings of relief for
the Rays. He yielded Andruw Jones’ two-run homer in the sixth.

NOTES: The teams combined to use 28 position players and 12
pitchers. … The Yankees struck out a season-high 15 times. …
Rays manager Joe Maddon said Niemann is on track to start Saturday.
… Yankees pitchers Andrew Brackman and Dellin Betances made their
major league debuts. … The Yankees’ rotation against Red sox this
weekend: Garcia (11-8), A.J. Burnett (10-11) and Nova (16-4). …
David Price (12-12) will start against the Blue Jays’ Brandon
Morrow (10-11) on Friday. Price left Sunday’s outing in Boston
after getting hit on the right side of his chest by a line drive.

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


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