Rays-Yankees Preview

The Associated Press

After a rough series against one of the AL East co-leaders, the Tampa Bay Rays must find a way to do better when they visit the other.

Looking to become the AL's first 18-game winner, David Price tries to help the Rays avoid matching a season high with a fourth consecutive loss Friday night against CC Sabathia and the New York Yankees.

Tampa Bay (77-66) scored two runs in each of its three games while being swept at Baltimore this week. The Rays recorded 12 hits but went 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position in Thursday's 3-2, 14-inning loss.

They're 4 for 37 (.108) in such situations over their past six games.

"It's just the same old story: We can't score enough runs,'' said manager Joe Maddon, whose club has lost 13 of its last 16 games decided by one run.

Four games behind New York (81-62) and the Orioles in the East, and four back of the second wild card, the Rays likely won't have it easy at Yankee Stadium, where they have lost 10 of 14.

"Going to New York, we'll have another huge series for us,'' said outfielder Matt Joyce, who has batted .157 with 21 strikeouts in his last 22 games. "We have to rebound quick. I think we'll be all right.''

New York will try for a third consecutive win after beating Boston 2-0 on Thursday.

"All we can do is control how we play," said Derek Jeter, who despite a sore ankle tied Willie Mays for 10th on the all-time hits list with his 3,283rd. "We know we have enough games left to where once again we have to win our games. That's the bottom line."

Though Tampa Bay has won five of the last seven against the Yankees, it's hit .215 and scored 18 runs while losing four of six in the Bronx this season.

Versatile Rays infielder Jeff Keppinger, however, is batting .400 (8 for 20) in his last five games and .417 (10 for 24) versus Sabathia (13-5, 3.56 ERA). Teammate Evan Longoria is hitting .378 (14 for 37) with three doubles and five home runs against the left-hander.

Sabathia is 1-1 with a 3.21 ERA in four starts against the Rays this season, but 0-2 with a 4.43 ERA in his last three outings overall. He allowed five runs and three homers in 6 1-3 innings of a 5-4 loss at Baltimore on Saturday.

Price (17-5, 2.54) is 2-1 with a 3.20 ERA in four starts against the Yankees in 2012, but 1-1 with 4.50 ERA in the Bronx this season.

After his last scheduled start was skipped because of shoulder soreness, the left-hander returns to the mound for the first time since he allowed two runs in 6 2-3 innings of a 9-4 win at Toronto on Sept. 2.

"I don't think there's any limitations to what I can do," Price told the Rays' official website. "So I'm just looking to go out there and give us a chance to win.

"The biggest stage in baseball is in Yankee Stadium, facing their ace. So, it should be a good game, it should be fun."

Jeter is batting .429 (18 for 42) with seven RBIs in his last nine games, but is 2 for 24 against the Rays in New York this season.

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