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Rays top Yankees in Rivera's home finale

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- The emotion was all on the New York Yankees' side Thursday at Yankee Stadium, but the Tampa Bay Rays attended to the business at hand.

Evan Longoria drove in three runs and Alex Cobb pitched into the eighth inning as the Rays completed a series sweep with a 4-0 victory before 48,675 fans in the final home appearance for closer Mariano Rivera.

The Rays (90-69) extended their winning streak to seven games, won for the 12th time in 15 games and lowered their magic number for clinching a wild-card spot to three over the Cleveland Indians and two over the Texas Rangers.

Tampa Bay holds a one-game lead on Cleveland and a two-game edge on Texas with three games remaining.

Cobb (11-3) allowed three hits in seven-plus innings, and Delmon Young added a solo home run for the Rays.

Cobb retired 16 of 17 hitters before allowing an eighth-inning double to Curtis Granderson and a single to Lyle Overbay. Joel Peralta finished the eighth, and Jake McGee worked the ninth.

New York starter Ivan Nova (9-6) allowed two runs and eight hits in seven innings.

Rivera retired all four batters he faced, tearfully exiting in the top of the ninth to a standing ovation.

"I'm really proud of how our players acknowledged the moment," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said of the send-off for Rivera. "He's the greatest closer ever, hard to imagine anyone is ever going to come close to his records. It's got to be what it was like to watch DiMaggio's hitting streak, only longer."

The Rays momentarily stepped away from their wild-card focus to acknowledge Rivera.

"It was a tremendous tribute to reflect the player that he is," Rays pitcher David Price said. "A class act."

Maddon said, "It was great choreography. Having the lead made it more pleasing to me to watch."

Wil Myers singled to lead off the fourth, moved up on a walk and raced home ahead of the throw on Longoria's single to give Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead.

Leading off the seventh, Young doubled the advantage, ripping a 1-0 fastball into the bullpen in left-center.

Ben Zobrist singled and James Loney doubled in the eighth in front of Longoria, who sent a single into center to score both runners and prompt the Yankees to go to Rivera.

In between the eighth and ninth innings, Rivera retreated to the trainer's room to gather his thoughts and reflect on a legendary career that will conclude Sunday.

Rivera normally sits in the dugout when pitching multiple innings, but this was not a normal appearance for the greatest closer in history.

"I had to regain my composure because I was in the training room," Rivera said. "I was alone there with Mark (Littlefield, the assistant trainer), and I was trying to put some water on my arm and everything kind of (hit me), all these flashbacks from the minor leagues to the big leagues, all the way to this moment."

Rivera exited after retiring Yunel Escobar for the second out of the ninth on a popup to second base. Instead of manager Joe Girardi coming out to take him out, longtime teammates Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter walked to the mound and shared an emotional embrace with Rivera.

"Definitely, definitely," Rivera said when asked if he was emotional. "Thank God they came out. It was difficult. After the eighth inning, I knew I was going back for the last time. It was totally a different feeling, something I never felt before. I don't know how I got those two guys out. It was amazing. I was trying to talk, I don't know what I was trying to do."

Pettitte said, "I didn't say anything at first. I didn't expect for him to be quite so emotional. He just broke down and just gave me a bear hug and I just bear hugged him back. He was really crying. He was weeping.

"I could feel him crying on me and I think I was just telling him, 'Man, you've just been so awesome,' just sharing stuff with him that I've already told him and he knows. Just telling him that I appreciate him and love him, man. And it's just been an honor to play alongside him. So that was what I was trying to say to him."

Rivera exited with tears in his eyes, tipped his cap to the crowd and accepted hugs from teammates while the Rays applauded him from across the field.

"Amazing, amazing," Rivera said of Tampa Bay's reaction. "It has been happening the whole year, but seeing that again when I came out in the field after the game and being there still after the game, I appreciate that. It's humbling to myself. ... (The way) the Lord allowed me to finish was spectacular."

NOTES: The Yankees said Rivera might get a chance to play center field this weekend in Houston. That is something Rivera requested, but he took a serious tone when answering questions about it. "If my body permits it," he said. "One thing I will tell you, if I can do it, I will do it. If I cannot do it, I will not be making a fool of myself there. I'm a professional, and this is not a joke for me. This is serious. This is business. I respect the game, and with that, I leave it like that. If I'm OK, if I can do it, I will do it. If not, it's fine." ... The Yankees shot down a report by the New York Daily News that 3B Alex Rodriguez was granted permission to be away from the team this weekend. Rodriguez was held out of the lineup because his legs were bothering him. ... Tampa Bay's starting lineup didn't include OF Desmond Jennings (hamstring) and Escobar (ankle), though Escobar entered in the fifth. Both are day-to-day. ... The Rays announced that Wednesday's game against the Yankees had a 7.9 television rating and was the highest-rated program in the Tampa Bay market.
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