Loney gets key hit in Rays' win

Larry Fleisher, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- After watching setup men Joel Peralta and Jake McGee struggle in the seventh inning Saturday afternoon, Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon entered the clubhouse with a bowl of chips and salsa and told his key relievers that he has confidence in them.
He also expressed confidence in James Loney by letting him hit against a tough left-handed reliever.
All three justified Maddon's faith.
Loney had three hits, including a tie-breaking two-run single with two outs in the top of the seventh inning, while McGee and Peralta pitched a scoreless inning apiece, helping Tampa Bay salvage a split of a four-game series at Yankee Stadium with a 3-1 victory over the New York Yankees on Sunday.
"It was almost incredibly coincidental and awesome at the same time that they would be able to get back into the game today, basically the same set of circumstances and be successful," Maddon said. "They're going to sleep better.
"Like I said before, we're not going anywhere without those two guys pitching like that at the end of ballgames."
Loney faced Boone Logan with the bases loaded. Logan has allowed a .279 average to lefties this year after a .231 mark last year, and Maddon could have considered pinch hitting in that spot.
Instead he stuck with Loney, who fell behind 1-2 before lining the fourth slider from Logan over shortstop Jayson Nix's head into center field.
"That was the moment right there," Loney said.
"The thing about James that I love in that moment is the fact that he's never in trouble with two strikes," Maddon said. "He's never upset."
After that it was the responsibility of McGee and Peralta to get the ball to closer Fernando Rodney.
McGee faced an identical situation as Saturday when Vernon Wells batted for Chris Stewart. On Saturday, Wells hit a three-run double off McGee. This time, McGee threw him a first-pitch slider and Wells flied out to left field.
"It kind of matched up perfect today," McGee said. "It's good to get right back out there."
Peralta, who loaded the bases on two walks and a double Saturday ahead of McGee, pitched the eighth against the middle of New York's lineup. He needed just 11 pitches to retire Robinson Cano, Travis Hafner and Lyle Overbay on fly balls to center fielder Desmond Jennings.
"It felt really good," Peralta said of rebounding from Saturday. "It means a lot that he still has confidence in me."
Rodney struck out the side in the ninth for his 15th save in 20 opportunities as Tampa Bay avoided a 10th loss when leading in the seventh inning or later.
The Rays reached the seventh in a 1-1 tie because Chris Archer (2-3) allowed one run and six hits over six innings. Archer allowed a sacrifice fly to Cano in the first but little else, retiring Hafner in the third after an intentional walk to Cano
"That specific play wasn't a sign, but the whole inning, I made pitches," Archer said of the first inning. "That whole inning was I got it."
Ivan Nova allowed three runs and seven hits over 6 2/3 innings during his first start in nearly two months. After allowing an RBI single by Ben Zobrist on his fastball in the first, Nova began using his curveball and recorded 12 outs on it, including six via strikeout.
His day ended after hitting Jennings and Zobrist, and that set up Loney's game-winning hit.
"That's the game," Nova said. "Of course, you don't want it to end like this but that's the game."
"He left a couple of fastballs up," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "After that he was really good."
NOTES: The Yankees held their 67th Old-Timers Day before the game, with approximately 50 former players in attendance, including Hall of Famers Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Goose Gossage, Rickey Henderson and Reggie Jackson. Other notable attendees included Bernie Williams, Paul O'Neill, David Cone and Orlando Hernandez from the 1996-2000 championship teams as well as former second baseman and Mets manager Willie Randolph ... Tampa Bay LHP David Price threw a bullpen session Sunday at Tropicana Field in preparation for his second rehab start Wednesday for Class A Port Charlotte. ... New York optioned OF Thomas Neal to Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to make room for Nova.

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