Rays ride long ball to 5-4 win over Yankees

Tampa Bay goes deep three times to topple Bombers on Wednesday
03/05/2014 4:44 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Eduardo Nunez was 3-for-3 in Wednesday's loss to the Rays.(AP)
The long ball was the Bronx Bombers' enemy on Wednesday, with three Tampa Bay home runs the impetus for the Rays' 5-4 win over the Yankees in Port Charlotte, Fla.

Most of the damage came in the fifth inning, with Robert Coello (0-2) allowing home runs to Desmond Jennings and Matt Joyce that took the Rays from a 4-1 deficit to a 5-4 lead. That allowed Erik Bedard (1-1), who pitched three scoreless innings in his bid to secure the fifth spot in the Rays' rotation, to take the win, with competitor Jake Odorizzi later picking up the save with a scoreless ninth.

New York started the game with a two-run first inning, with three straight one-out singles by Eduardo Nunez, Ichiro Suzuki, and Russ Canzler giving them a 1-0 lead before Kelly Johnson beat out a double-play ball to give himself an RBI groundout and the Yankees a 2-0 advantage.

Tampa Bay quickly struck back, with leadoff hitter Ben Zobrist starting off the bottom of the first with the first of three Rays homers, but starter Adam Warren got out of that inning and then escaped a two-on, one-out jam in the second to keep the score at 2-0.

The Yankees doubled their run total in the fourth, loading the bases with two outs ahead of Brett Gardner's two-run single that made it 4-1, but any further damage was mitigated when Gardner tried to stretch the single into a double and was thrown out at second to end the inning.

The Rays then took control in the fifth, an inning that started with Coello hitting leadoff man Mikie Mahtook with a pitch. Ben Zobrist then singled, and Jennings followed with a three-run homer that tied the game at 4-4; two batters later, Joyce hit a solo shot to right, giving the Rays a 5-4 lead and ending Coello's day after just a third of an inning.

Tampa Bay rallied against replacement Matt Daley as well, getting runners to second and third after a pair of singles and a wild pitch, but Daley got Guyer to pop out to end the threat.

The Yankees would have at least one runner in scoring position in three of the last four innings, but a John Ryan Murphy double play ended their best threat - a two-on, one-out situation in the sixth - and Odorizzi worked out of a two-on, one-out situation of his own in the ninth to close the game.

Offensively, the Yankees did have 11 hits, with Eduardo Nunez going 3-for-3 to raise his spring average to .364. Gardner and Ichiro's aforementioned singles were their only hits in three plate appearances, and Yangervis Solarte was also 1-for-3, a line that dropped his spring average to .667.

On the mound, Warren's final line was 2 1/3 innings with one run on four hits and two strikeouts, and his immediate replacement, Dellin Betances, allowed no runs or hits in his 1 2/3 innings, walking one and striking out two. After Coello and Daley, Yoshinori Tateyama had a strong outing, walking one and striking out two in a pair of scoreless innings, and Jim Miller struck out two in a perfect eighth.

With the loss, the Yankees drop to 5-4 overall on the spring and an even 4-4 on the Grapefruit League schedule. Their next game is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. Thursday against the Phillies in Clearwater, and it's a big one at least in terms of star power; Masahiro Tanaka will make his second appearance (and first start) of the spring, Mark Teixeira and Alfonso Soriano are scheduled to make their spring debuts, and the travel list for the trip has six other penciled-in Opening Day starters - pretty much everyone but Jacoby Ellsbury - set to make the short trek across the Campbell Causeway.

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