By MARK DIDTLER
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) _ Blake Snell and the Tampa Bay Rays’ bullpen combined to strand 11 New York runners in a 2-0 win Thursday night that prevented a much-needed three-game sweep by the Yankees.
New York went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position, including 0 for 7 against Snell. The Yankees started play 21/2 games in back of Baltimore for the second AL wild-card spot and also trailed Seattle, Houston and Detroit.
Snell (6-8) gave up five hits and three walks. New York had scoring threats in four of five innings against him, leaving the bases loaded in the third when Chase Headley flied out. Headley returned to New York’s lineup after missing three games because of back tightness.
Chase Whitley, in his third game since returning from Tommy John surgery, allowed two hits in 2 2/3 innings, and Alex Colome finished for his 35th save in 37 chances.
Brad Miller had an RBI single in the first after Logan Forsythe led off with a catchable popup to right field that Aaron Hicks allowed to drop in front of him for a hit. Corey Dickerson hit a solo homer in the sixth off Luis Cessa (4-3), who gave two runs and six hits in six innings.
Yankees rookie catcher Gary Sanchez threw out Kevin Kiermaier at second base in the third inning to end the speedster’s run of 18 consecutive successful stolen bases attempts. Sanchez picked Curt Casali off second one inning later.
Sanchez went 0 for 2 but walked twice.
Yankees: RHP Masahiro Tanaka will miss his start Monday at Toronto due to a slight lower right forearm strain. . Headley (back spasms) returned after missing three games. . Manager Joe Girardi expects 2B Starlin Castro (right hamstring) to play again this season.
Rays: LHP Xavier Cedeno (neck) won’t play again this season.
Yankees 1B Greg Bird (right labrum surgery) remains on target to take batting practice against pitchers at instructional league early next week. . Reggie Jackson and Alex Rodriguez are expected to spent time as instructors with the Yankees’ instructional league team.
Yankees: Minor league LHP Phil Coke was traded to Pittsburgh for $1.
Rays: INF Juniel Querecuto had his contract selected from Double-A Montgomery and started at third base in his big league debut.
Yankees: RHP Bryan Mitchell (1-1) will start against LHP Francisco Liriano (1-2) Friday night in the opener of a four-game series at Toronto.
Rays: RHP Chris Archer (8-18) will look to avoid a team-record 19th loss when he pitches against LHP Drew Pomeranz (2-5) and AL East-leading Boston on Friday night.
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