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New York Vs. Tampa Bay: Sabathia, Yankees Lose Series Opener, 6-4

The New York Yankees dropped their series opener against the Rays on Friday night, falling 6-4 in the Bronx. The Yankees remained tied with the Baltimore Orioles for first place in the American League East as Baltimore lost to the Oakland Athletics, 3-2. The loss narrowed the gap between the Yankees and Rays to just three games.

Yankee ace CC Sabathia struggled on the mound again, giving up four earned runs in 6.2 innings of work. Sabathia cruised through the first four innings, but the Rays lineup got to him their third time through the order, posting a three-run rally in the top of the fifth. Sabathia gave up a lead-off double to Chris Gimenez and then walked Carlos Pena to quickly put two on. Elliot Johnson and Desmond Jennings delivered back-to-back singles to drive in two and give the Rays a lead they would not relinquish.

Rays starter David Price held the Yankees lineup to just five hits. Captain Derek Jeter managed to get one of those base knocks, a single to the right side that pushed him ahead of Willie Mays into sole possession of No. 10 on the all-time MLB hits list. Jeter got a standing ovation from the Yankee Stadium crowd in the bottom of the fifth.

With Price finally out of the game, the Yankees quickly went to work on the Rays bullpen and Joel Peralta. Alex Rodriguez ripped a two-run homer high into the Bronx night to cut the lead to one. The ball went deep into the left-field seats, and it put A-Rod ahead of Lou Gehrig on the all-time MLB runs scored list at 1,889.

Joe Maddon did not wait long to make the call for his closer, bringing on Fernando Rodney for a five-out save opportunity. Rodney would slam the door and the Rays would add another insurance run in the ninth to clinch the 6-4 win.

Ivan Nova will take the hill for the Yankees in Game 2, while the Rays will counter with James Shields. Nova will be pitching for the first time since August 21. He has been on the disabled list since that game with a shoulder issue.

AL East Standings

Baltimore 81 63 .562 0 Lost 1
New York 81 63 .562 0 Lost 1
Tampa Bay 78 66 .541 3 Lost 2
Toronto 65 78 .454 15.5 Lost 1
Boston 65 80 .448 16.5 Won 1

(updated 9.15.2012 at 8:01 AM EDT)

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