By BEN WALKER AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) _ CC 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 New York Yankees beat
the Tampa Bay Rays 5-3 Thursday night.
The Yankees overcame a pair of early errors by third baseman
Eduardo Nunez to take the series and send Tampa Bay to its fourth
loss in five games.
Sabathia (5-0) struck out 10, punctuating his outing by fanning
B.J. Upton with two runners on base to end the seventh inning. The
burly pitcher twirled on the mound and violently punched the air,
catcher Chris Stewart pumped his fist and Upton pounded his bat in
the ground after swinging over a slider.
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
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. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said before the game that it
was “doubtful” he would use Robertson for a third straight day.
While this wasn’t a must-win for Sabathia by any means, it
certainly was a welcomed one. 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.
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.
Granderson lined a solo shot into the second deck in right field
in the second. Cano’s tiebreaking, two-run drive in the fifth
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
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: 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 OF
Brett Gardner (strained right elbow) had swelling after a Triple-A
game Wednesday and went for more tests. “I don’t know when we’re
going to get him 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.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)