ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) _ Not even Ivan Nova could stop the
Tampa Bay Rays from another home win over the New York Yankees.
Sean Rodriguez hit a go-ahead two-run homer, helping the Rays
beat the Yankees 7-4 on Tuesday night.
Nova, who entered 5-0 in his past seven starts, allowed six runs
and seven hits in six-plus innings. The right-hander had won his
previous four starts against Tampa Bay, limiting the Rays to four
earned runs in 28 innings during the stretch.
“I didn’t have very good fastball command, but I can’t make an
excuse,” Nova said. “I just have to pitch. I just got hit, so I
have to move past this one and look forward to the next start.”
Rodriguez, mired in a 17 for 100 slump dating back to May 21,
finished with 3 for 4.
After blowing a three-run lead, New York went ahead 4-3 on Eric
Chavez’s RBI single during the fourth. Tampa Bay responded in the
bottom half and grabbed a 5-4 lead on Rodriguez’s first homer since
May 27 off Nova (9-3).
James Shields (8-5) gave up four runs and 10 hits over seven
innings for the Rays, who have won nine straight at Tropicana Field
over the Yankees.
“We’ve got to find a way to win a game,” New York manager Joe
Girardi said. “We haven’t played well and we’ve had a lead the
last couple of nights, but given it up. We’ve got to find a way to
hold the lead. Tonight wasn’t a good game for us. We have to put up
a good game tomorrow to win.”
Tampa Bay extended its lead to 7-4 with a two-run seventh. After
Desmond Jennings stole home on a play that had catcher Russell
Martin make a bad throw to second on B.J. Upton’s stolen base
attempt, Ben Zobrist had a run-scoring single.
Fernando Rodney, the Rays’ third reliever, pitched the ninth for
his 24th save.
New York took a 2-0 lead in the first when Curtis Granderson had
an RBI double and Robinson Cano hit a run-scoring single.
Cano, who has driven in at least one run in a career-high seven
consecutive games, was then doubled off first on Nick Swisher’s
one-out fly to center. Cano was also thrown out at the plate on a
strong relay throw from Rodriguez on Raul Ibanez’s sixth-inning
Dewayne Wise made it 3-0 on a third-inning solo homer.
Wise nearly threw out Elliot Johnson out at the plate from left
field on Upton’s two-out single later in the third, but a sliding
Johnson was called safe when Martin juggled the ball during the tag
try. Jeff Keppinger then tied it at 3 on a two-run single.
“I felt like this is pretty much my loss,” Martin said. “If I
make that play in the third inning, it’s a whole different ball
game. There’s no excuse. I tried to put the tag down and (the ball)
just popped out.”
Martin, hitting .182, went 0 for 4 and is hitless in his last 23
Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira was out of the lineup on a
planned day off that was set up about a week ago. The break came
one day after Teixeira made his first error in 94 games, a
misplayed two-out grounder in the seventh inning that allowed the
eventual winning run to score in New York’s 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay.
Chavez, who took Teixeira’s spot, was charged with an error
after mishandling Zobrist’s grounder in the third.
“These are actually human beings, they’re not robots,” Girardi
said. “This is not a game where you play on TV in a video game.
Some players are going to make errors some nights, but our players
have done a good job of not making errors this year.”
NOTES: Rays LHP David Price (11-4), who left his previous start
last Friday after seven innings because of lower back tightness,
will go against Yankees RHP David Phelps (1-3) in Wednesday’s
series finale. Phelps is filling for New York ace CC Sabathia, who
has been out since straining his left groin on June 24. …
Sabathia threw in the outfield for the second consecutive game,
including at 60 feet. The left-hander expects to have a mound
session this weekend. … Wise has homered in three of last five
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)