ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon takes no solace in losing when it’s Derek Jeter getting the key hit against his team.
Jeter had a tiebreaking single in the ninth inning and the New York Yankees ended a five-game skid with a 3-2 victory over the Rays on Saturday.
“Honestly, no,” Maddon said. “You know that he’s going to compete.”
The announced crowd of 31,042 at Tropicana Field was the Rays’ second home sellout this season. Tampa Bay entered with the major league’s lowest average home attendance at 17,848.
New York manager Joe Girardi thought it was the loudest he’s heard an opposing stadium’s crowd cheering for the Yankees’ captain, who is retiring after the season.
“There are a lot of Yankees’ fans down here because spring training is here,” Jeter said. “Seemed like quite a few were in the stands, so it’s almost like a home game.”
Brett Gardner opened the ninth with an infield single off Jake McGee (3-1) and advanced to second on a throwing error by second baseman Logan Forsythe. After failing to lay down a sacrifice bunt, Jeter put New York ahead with a single to right-center on a 2-2 pitch.
“I just rushed it,” said Forsythe, who played Gardner’s grounder after it was deflected by McGee. “You just have to stay within yourself and I got away from that and it cost us.”
The Rays extended their club-record streak of allowing three runs or fewer to 12 consecutive games, but have gone just 7-5 over the stretch.
The Yankees took a lead in the second when Chase Headley drew a two-out walk on a full-count pitch and Martin Prado homered on an 0-2 offering from Drew Smyly, making his first home start since being acquired in a trade that sent ace David Price to Detroit on July 31.
Smyly gave up two runs and four hits over seven innings.
Price is scheduled to pitch against Tampa Bay for the first time Thursday in the finale of a three-game series in Florida.
After Yunel Escobar had a sixth-inning RBI single, Tampa Bay tied it at 2 on Ben Zobrist’s run-scoring grounder in the seventh.
Tampa Bay had become the fourth team ever in the majors to get back to .500 after being at least 18 games under the break-even point with a 5-0 victory Friday night over the Yankees that gave them a 61-61 record.
Dellin Betances (5-0) worked a perfect eighth before David Robertson got three outs for his 32nd save. Rookie Shane Greene allowed two runs, seven hits and struck out a career-high 10 in six-plus innings.
Yankees: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (right elbow) threw 25 pitches during his first bullpen session since going on the DL July 9. C Brian McCann (concussion) might return Sunday.
Rays: OF David DeJesus (left hand) went 0 for 1 with a walk in his first Gulf Coast League game.
ON THE MOVE
Tampa Bay recalled INF Vince Belnome from Triple-A Durham and optioned reliever Brandon Gomes to the International League club. Belnome went 0 for 2 with a walk.
Jeter has 20 career game-winning RBI hits against the Rays, which is second most. David Ortiz tops the list with 26.
Yankees RHP Hiroki Kuroda (7-8), 0-3 in his last four starts against Tampa Bay, and Rays RHP Jeremy Hellickson (1-1) are Sunday’s scheduled starters.
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