By FRED GOODALL AP Sports Writer
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) _ James Shields pitched eight strong
innings to outlast CC Sabathia and light-hitting Chris Gimenez
drove in two runs Monday, helping the Tampa Bay Rays beat the New
York Yankees 4-3 and further tightening the AL East race.
The Yankees, who led by 10 games earlier this summer, had their
edge cut to one game by Baltimore, which beat Toronto 4-0. The Rays
moved within 2 1-2 games of New York.
Shields (13-8) and the Rays ruined the return of Alex Rodriguez.
The slugger went 1 for 4 with a strikeout in his first game after
being sidelined six weeks with a broken left hand.
Gimenez snapped a 3-all tie in the eighth with a two-out
grounder that just made it to the outfield for a single off David
Gimenez, recalled from the minors on Saturday and batting just
.203, also had a RBI single off Sabathia in the second.
Fernando Rodney pitched the ninth for Tampa Bay, striking out
Rodriguez and earning his 41st save by fanning pinch hitter Curtis
Granderson with the tying run on third base. Granderson had been
out since leaving Saturday’s game with tendinitis in his right
Sabathia allowed three runs and eight hits, struck out four and
walked two in seven innings.
Robertson gave up a leadoff single to Jeff Keppinger in the
eighth, and it didn’t look like it would wind up hurting the
Yankees when Russell Martin threw out pinch runner Rich Thompson on
a close play at second. Rays manager Joe Maddon trotted out of the
dugout to protest the call and was ejected after an animated
discussion with second base umpire Bob Davidson.
But Tampa Bay wasn’t finished. Ryan Roberts singled and stole
second before Gimenez delivered his go-ahead hit on a grounder that
just got past second baseman Robinson Cano.
Rodriguez had been out since breaking his left hand on July 24,
when he was hit by a pitch by Seattle’s Felix Hernandez. Manager
Joe Girardi plugged him into his customary cleanup spot as the
designated hitter to bolster an offense missing the injured Mark
Teixeira and Granderson, who have combined to hit 57 homers.
A-Rod said before the game that was not returning to “save the
day” for the struggling Yankees, but rather to be “part of a
Rodriguez popped up in his first at-bat before singling up the
middle and scoring on Raul Ibanez’s triple in the fourth. Shields
retired him on a grounder in the sixth inning, and Rodney struck
him out to begin the ninth.
Hitless through three innings, the Yankees broke through for
three runs in the fourth. Cano got them started with a double down
the right-field line, A-Rod hit a squibber that eluded shortstop
Elliot Johnson for his hit and Chavez followed with a sacrifice fly
to trim Tampa Bay’s lead to 2-1.
Rodriguez scored from first when Ibanez hit to a liner to right
field that skipped to the wall when Ben Francisco was unable to
make a diving catch. Ibanez scored, putting the ahead 3-2, when
Martin hit a grounder that pulled first baseman Jeff Keppinger far
enough away from the bag that the hustling Yankees catcher was able
to beat out his single by sliding into first to avoid a tag.
Shields, coming off a 1-0 loss to Texas in which he allowed
three hits over seven innings, settled to retire 10 of the next 11
batters before walking Derek Jeter on a 10-pitch at-bat leading off
The Yankees threatened in the ninth when Chavez reached on an
error. Pinch runner Eduardo Nunez stole second before taking third
when Ibanez grounded out.
NOTES: Olympic gold medalist Tiana Madison threw out the
ceremonial first pitch. The Tampa resident was part of the United
States’ women’s 4×100 relay team in London. … Teixeira missed his
sixth consecutive with a left calf strain. He took batting practice
Monday and could return by the end of the week. “The real test is
going to come when he has to run,” Girardi said. “Can he make
those bursts he has to make?”
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)