St. Petersburg, FL (Sports Network) – Dan Johnson belted a pair of two-run homers, including the go-ahead blast in the seventh inning off Phil Hughes, as the Rays moved back into first place in the AL East with a 4-3 win over the Yankees.
Tampa Bay won two of the three contests in the series and holds a half-game edge on New York in the division. These teams will meet for one final series, a four-game matchup in the Bronx, starting next Monday.
Wednesday’s game was met with controversy in the top of the seventh, when the Yankees went ahead, 3-2, on Curtis Granderson’s two-run homer. It came after Derek Jeter motioned that he was hit on his hand by a pitch, but replays showed the ball caromed off the knob of the bat. The umpires huddled, but Jeter was awarded first, causing the ejection of a vehement Rays manager Joe Maddon. Granderson then clubbed a 3-2 offering from Chad Qualls (1-0) to the first row of seats beyond the wall in right field.
Matt Joyce singled with two outs in the seventh before Johnson went deep for just the fifth time this season, a shot to right.
Grant Balfour pitched out of trouble in the top of the eighth. Robinson Cano singled off Randy Choate, who was then replaced by Balfour. Pinch-hitter Marcus Thames struck out, but Balfour walked Jorge Posada, who hit the winning homer in Tuesday’s 8-7 New York win in 10 innings. Austin Kearns fanned and Colin Curtis grounded out.
Rafael Soriano walked Mark Teixeira with two outs in the ninth, but then fanned Alex Rodriguez to end the game and picked up his 43rd save, tying Roberto Hernandez (1999) for the single-season club record.
Rays starter James Shields scattered eight hits and fanned eight batters over 6 1/3 innings.
Hughes (16-8), making his 100th major league appearance, allowed six hits and fanned five over 6 2/3 frames for the wild card-leading Yankees, losers in five of their last six games.
Cano singled in Jeter in the opening inning, but Lance Berkman grounded into a double play with the bases loaded to end the frame.
The Yankees left runners at the corners in the fourth, and Hughes was perfect into the fifth, when Evan Longoria led off with a single. One out later, Johnson homered to right field for a 2-1 game.
This was Johnson’s fourth career multi-homer game. The four RBI ties a career- best…Tampa Bay has won four of its last six games…The Yankees will begin a three-game series at Baltimore on Friday, while the Rays host the Angels this weekend…The only remaining games the Rays have vs. AL East clubs is four against the Yankees and three vs. Baltimore. New York plays exclusively against AL East clubs the rest of the way…Tampa Bay owns an 8-6 lead in the season series.