^By MIKE FITZPATRICK=
^AP Baseball Writer=
NEW YORK (AP) _ Ivan Nova was shaky on the mound, then wild with a throw to third. Jose Pirela made two errors on one play. And hardly anyone with a bat in their hands was able to solve Erasmo Ramirez _ again.
“We had a bad day,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Ramirez pitched out of early trouble in his latest effective outing against New York, and the Tampa Bay Rays took advantage of some shoddy defense for an 8-1 victory Sunday that snapped their longest losing streak of the season at seven games.
Nova (1-2) gave up four runs _ three earned _ and six hits in five innings, the shortest of his three starts since returning from Tommy John surgery. He has lost five consecutive decisions against Tampa Bay after winning six of his first seven.
“Obviously, not a good game,” Nova said. “The stuff was not there (like) the last two times and there’s not much to say. Just keep working and hopefully get a good one next time.”
The right-hander walked three and threw wildly past third base on a bunt, allowing a run to score on his error. Catcher Brian McCann took the blame for changing his call from first base to third.
New York has managed only three hits and one run with Nova in the game during his last two outings.
“I thought he did a pretty good job for not having anything,” Girardi said. “He just had a hard time throwing strikes.”
Alex Rodriguez hit his 670th home run, the only damage against Ramirez (7-3) in six innings. Yankees hitters entered 2 for 27 (.074) against him this year and didn’t fare much better.
“They have a bunch of big left-handed hitters, lot of power, and I think his changeup really plays well for him against these hitters,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
It’s not just the first-place Yankees, though.
Ramirez is 5-1 with a 1.18 ERA in seven starts since May 30, yielding no more than two runs in any of them. He is 7-2 with a 2.17 ERA since joining the rotation on May 14.
“We did hit some balls hard, but they ran them down,” Girardi said. “I didn’t have a problem with our approach and how we swung the bats today, we just didn’t get hits.”
Pirela, who entered as a pinch hitter in the seventh and then took over at second base, botched a potential double-play ball in the eighth and compounded the mistake by rushing a wide throw to first.
“He’s got to be able to make that play,” Girardi said.
James Loney and Logan Forsythe each had a two-run single for the Rays, who had dropped 11 of 13 while falling out of first place in the AL East. They salvaged the finale of a frustrating series at Yankee Stadium that included walk-off defeats in the first two games.
Loney grounded a two-run single in the first and made a nice play at first base in the bottom half to thwart a bases-loaded threat. New York didn’t get another hit until A-Rod’s 16th homer of the season leading off the sixth.
Curt Casali had a sacrifice fly in the second following Kevin Kiermaier’s leadoff triple, which glanced off the glove of a rapidly retreating Brett Gardner in center field after he initially misjudged the line drive.
“We didn’t play our best game today _ both sides of the ball,” McCann said. “You tip your cap to Ramirez. He kept us between speeds all day.”
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