Rays-Yankees Preview

The Associated Press

The Tampa Bay Rays are riding their longest winning streak over the New York Yankees, yet they haven't enjoyed much of an edge in the Bronx - something James Shields has learned firsthand.

Shields will try to match a club record by winning a sixth consecutive start when the Rays go for an eighth straight victory over the Yankees on Tuesday night.

Tampa Bay dropped New York to 0-3 for the first time in 14 years with a season-opening sweep at Tropicana Field, leaving the Rays undefeated in the series since a 4-2 loss at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 21.

The Rays (19-10), losers of two straight following a 12-1 surge, open an eight-game trip against AL East foes. Despite their recent dominance of New York (15-13), they have only two victories in their last eight games in the Bronx.

Shields (5-0, 3.05 ERA) has a chance to match Scott Kazmir's team record set in 2008 with his sixth consecutive winning start, as he's posted a 1.98 ERA in his previous five outings. Shields, though, has lost his last three starts at Yankee Stadium and is 2-6 with a 5.05 ERA there.

He's surrendered 10 home runs in those 10 outings.

"You definitely have to be careful of the right-field wall, but for the most part, you have to concentrate on their hitters, who are dangerous no matter where you're playing them," he told the Rays' official website.

The Yankees, though, have scored one total run in their last two home games - losses to Baltimore last Tuesday and Wednesday.

New York (15-13) begins a six-game homestand after salvaging a four-game split in Kansas City with a 10-4 victory Sunday.

Robinson Cano hit a grand slam - his second home run of the season - while Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher also homered as the Yankees nearly matched their run total of 11 from the previous five games.

"We know what these guys are capable of doing and eventually it's going to come," manager Joe Girardi said.

Cano and Mark Teixeira, batting .222 with four homers, need to improve, but Derek Jeter has a league-best 16 multihit games and is batting .397.

Jeter, five hits shy of tying Tony Gwynn for 17th all-time with 3,141, was 3 for 13 against the Rays last month. Jeter is a .314 hitter (22 for 70) against Shields, who is undefeated since giving up six runs in a 7-6 season-opening victory over New York.

Cano is batting .400 (24 for 60) with four homers, five doubles and two triples against the Rays right-hander.

Ivan Nova (3-1, 5.58) will be looking to rebound from his first loss in 21 starts. With a chance to tie Roger Clemens' club record with 16 consecutive winning decisions, the right-hander gave up five runs and walked a season-high four in 6 1-3 innings of a 5-0 loss to the Orioles on Wednesday.

The Yankees scored 30 runs in Nova's previous four starts.

"You pitch with the mindset that, 'OK, your team is going to wake up any time,'" Nova said. "But they didn't."

Opponents are batting .341 against Nova, who is 2-0 with a 3.47 ERA in four starts versus Tampa Bay.

Rays center fielder B.J. Upton, 2 for 10 with two doubles off Nova, is batting .333 with 11 RBIs in 14 games since coming off the disabled list. He batted .412 with three homers as Tampa Bay dropped six of nine at Yankee Stadium in 2011.

It's uncertain if left fielder Desmond Jennings will be available for the Rays on Tuesday after leaving Sunday's 9-5 loss to Oakland with a sore left knee.

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