Tampa Bay Rays starter David Price (W, 18-5) was the better man during Friday night's Bronx battle of left-handed aces, limiting the New York Yankees (81-63) to two runs over seven innings in a 6-4 win.
CC Sabathia (L, 13-6) got knocked around for four runs on six hits in 6 2/3 innings, dropping his third consecutive decision. The losing streak is Sabathia's longest as a Yankee and longest overall since 2008, when he was suiting up for the Cleveland Indians.
The Rays (78-66), by improving to 10-6 vs. New York, secured a season series victory over their AL East rival for the third time in franchise history.
"The lineup is good, it's just very balanced," Sabathia, who gave up a lead for the fifth straight start, told Yahoo! Contributor Network following the loss. "It's always a tough matchup when you play them."
"It's a good team," said Curtis Granderson, who homered off Price in the fifth. "That's pretty much it; they're a really good team. They hit, they pitch, they play defense, they do a lot of little things right. That's just part of it."
Regarding Price's performance, Granderson told YCN: "He was throwing up to 97 mph, he's got the cutter that he's working with, and the curveball when he wants to throw it. And then he was able to throw a changeup to the righties when he needs to.
"He did everything he needed to do," the center fielder added, "and David Price, like he's been all season long, gettin' wins, gettin' strikeouts, staying in the ballgame and giving his team an opportunity to win."
The Yankees took a 1-0 lead on Steve Pearce's second-inning RBI single, but Tampa Bay rallied for three runs in the fifth. Elliot Johnson and Desmond Jennings had run-scoring singles, and Johnson scored from third when Evan Longoria grounded into a 5-5-3 double play.
After Granderson's homer got New York within 3-2, Ben Zobrist singled Johnson in with two outs in the seventh to end Sabathia's night, and B.J. Upton clobbered a solo shot off Cody Eppley to left-center in the eighth.
Alex Rodriguez jolted the crowd of 45,200 with a two-run home run to left off reliever Joel Peralta in the eighth, but any hope his second-deck blast provided faded a half-inning later. With two outs in Tampa Bay's part of the ninth, Eduardo Nunez, manning short while Derek Jeter served as the designated hitter, prompted chants of "Let's go Oakland"--where the Baltimore Orioles (81-63) were defeated 3-2 Friday--by committing a fielding error that allowed Jennings to score.
"We had opportunities, but it's a team over there that's not gonna quit," Granderson said. "We've seen it all year long playing Tampa. If given an opportunity, they're going to take advantage of it. They did that again tonight."
Milestone Notes: Rodriguez's homer--career hit No. 2,884--brought him into a tie with Zack Wheat for 37th place on Baseball's all-time list. The third baseman has now scored 1,889 runs in his career, placing him ninth all time, one spot above Yankees legend Lou Gehrig (1,888). ... Jeter, who went 2-for-5 on the night, took sole possession of 10th place on the all-time hits list, surpassing New York/San Francisco Giants all-time great Willie Mays' total (3,283) with an infield single to second in the fifth. The Yankees captain's eighth-inning single marked his 3,285th career hit.
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