ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — David Price outpitched CC Sabathia and the Tampa Bay Rays rallied Saturday night to beat the New York Yankees 4-2 to hang on to first place in the AL East.
Evan Longoria snapped a 2-2 tie with a sixth-inning RBI single and added a solo homer in the eighth to help reigning AL Cy Young winner Price (8-5) win his fifth consecutive decision and improve to 7-1 since a stint on the disabled list for a left triceps strain.
Sabathia (11-11) took a 2-0 lead into the sixth before giving up three quick runs the Rays used to remain in first place, percentage points ahead of the Boston Red Sox.
The fourth-place Yankees have dropped the first two games of a weekend series after winning five straight as part of a surge that carried them back into playoff contention.
Price allowed two runs and five hits over six innings. Jake McGee, Joel Peralta and Fernando Rodney finished up, with Rodney working a perfect ninth to earn his 30th save.
Sabathia, the 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner with Cleveland, allowed three runs and six hits over 6 1-3 innings. He walked two and struck out seven.
This was the ninth time in their careers that Price and Sabathia have faced each other. The Rays have won eight of those games, with Price going 6-1 in the matchups.
But Tampa Bay’s success against Sabathia extends beyond Price outpitching the Yankees ace.
Sabathia has won just four of his 23 starts against the Rays since signing with New York as a free agent before the 2009 season. He was 7-1 with a 2.44 ERA in 11 starts against Tampa Bay prior to joining the Yankees.
The 33-year-old’s bid to reverse the trend went well early, with Sabathia limiting the Rays to Longoria’s first-inning double on a hard grounder up the third base line until Tampa Bay broke through for three runs in the sixth.
Sam Fuld’s bloop single to left got the Rays going. Desmond Jennings drew a four-pitch walk and both runners scored when Ben Zobrist lined his double into the gap in left-centerfield to move into fourth place on Tampa Bay’s career RBI list with 450. Longoria singled to center to give Price a 3-2 lead.
The Yankees loaded the bases in the fifth on singles by Alex Rodriguez, Vernon Wells and Mark Reynolds, then scored twice to take a 2-0 lead without getting the ball out of the infield.
Austin Romine fouled off three consecutive pitches on a full count before drawing a walk that allowed Rodriguez to score. Ichiro Suzuki grounded out to second base to drive in the other run.
The walk was only the sixth Price has allowed in 11 starts since coming off the disabled list on July 2.
Notes: Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that barring a setback, SS Derek Jeter (strained right calf) will rejoin the team Monday in Toronto. … Rays All-Star LHP Matt Moore, on the 15-day disabled list due to left elbow soreness, pitched a simulated game and could be on track to return to the rotation soon. The 14-game winner said he felt good after the 49-pitch outing. “Today was a very positive day. I think we definitely can build off this,” Moore said. … Yankees OF Brett Gardner was out of the lineup against the left-handed throwing Price. He pinch-hit in the ninth against Rodney and flied to center to end the game. … New York 1B Lyle Overbay (flulike symptoms) took batting practice, but didn’t start for the second straight game.
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