Bronx, NY (Sports Network) - Carl Crawford and B.J. Upton each had a two-run hit in Tampa Bay's seven-run sixth inning, as the Rays routed the Yankees, 10- 3, to gain a split in a critical four-game series.
Crawford finished with three hits for the wild card-leading Rays, who won the final two games of this set to clinch the season series win. They now sit a half-game behind the Yankees in the AL East, and likely have a leg up in the division race for the rest of the season.
Tampa Bay has 10 games left, facing Seattle, Baltimore and Kansas City, clubs that have a combined record of 182-274. Meanwhile, the Yankees play Boston (84-68) in six of their final nine games.
Rays starter David Price (18-6) gave up eight hits and four walks in six innings, but limited the Yankees to three runs and struck out seven.
Yankees ace CC Sabathia (20-7) allowed seven runs on 10 hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings to take the loss.
New York held a 3-1 lead entering the top of the sixth, but the Rays started to rally with a Crawford single and an Evan Longoria double. The hits put runners in scoring position, and after Sabathia fanned Ben Zobrist, Rocco Baldelli reached on a soft grounder that plated Crawford.
Willy Aybar followed with another base hit to tie the game, and Sabathia walked Kelly Shoppach to load the bases. Sabathia then fell behind to Sean Rodriguez, but got a favorable call on a high fastball to make it a full count. After Rodriguez fouled a ball off, he took a ball down and inside to force in a run for a 4-3 Rays lead.
The Yankees then brought in Joba Chamberlain to get out of the jam. But Upton crushed a slider deep to left-center field for a ground-rule double, plating two.
Chamberlain retired the next batter, but Crawford hit a hard grounder through the right side to chase in Rodriguez and Upton for an 8-3 lead.
The Yankees loaded the bases with two down in the bottom half, but Price got Mark Teixeira to fly out to center to end the threat.
The game then took a strange turn in the final few innings. Javier Vazquez took the mound for New York in the seventh and had little to no control. He walked Zobrist before hitting Desmond Jennings, Aybar and Shoppach to force in a run and match an MLB record.
Despite this, Vazquez remained in the game and gave up only one more run, on a sacrifice fly from pinch-hitter Dan Johnson. Vazquez actually threw a scoreless eighth and ninth for the Yankees, but New York ran the white flag up the pole in the top of the eighth, when manager Joe Girardi took out most of his starters.
The Yankees grabbed the lead in the second inning, which Robinson Cano began with a single. Marcus Thames then dropped his bat on a first-pitch fastball, low and in, and sent it over the left field wall.
Zobrist's RBI single in the third got the Rays on the board, but Nick Swisher singled in a run in the fifth to restore the Yankees' two-run advantage.
The Rays won the season series with the Yankees by a 10-8 margin. It is the second time in franchise history they have done so (also 2005)...Tampa Bay reduced its magic number for clinching a playoff berth to four...A pitcher has hit three consecutive batters eight times in major league history. Vazquez became the first Yankee to do so and first since the Dodgers' Jeff Weaver on August 21, 2004. Harry Harper (8/25/21) and Tom Morgan (6/30/54) are the only other Yankees pitchers to hit three batters in an inning...Sabathia has lost two straight starts at Yankee Stadium after going undefeated in his previous 21...Derek Jeter went 1-for-3 to extend his hitting streak to a season-high 12 games.