Bronx, NY (Sports Network) -moved closer in his chase for 3,000 career hits, but and the stole the show Thursday in a 5-1 victory over the in the opener of a four-game series.
Jeter doubled in his first at-bat for hit No. 2,998, but came up empty in his next four plate appearances.
"After the first one, I'd be lying to you if I didn't think it was attainable today," admitted Jeter. "Niemann did a great job ... He settled down."
robbed Jeter of a hit with a diving backhanded stab down the third-base line in the fifth, then nabbed him on a bang-bang play at first to end the game with two runners on base.
Other than Jeter's two-bagger, the only time the crowd of 47,787 at Yankee Stadium had a chance to cheer for the home team came on Robinson Cano's home run in the sixth. It was the only mistake made by Niemann (4-4) in his 7 1/3 innings on the hill, as he gave up just six hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
"That was like Jeff Niemann prior to the injury last year, that's what I saw. He was pitch efficient," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
went 3-for-3 with two walks and finished a double short of the cycle, while also homered and drove in three runs for the Rays, winners of two straight and four of six overall.
(6-4) yielded five runs on 10 hits and four walks in 5 2/3 frames to absorb his first loss since May 23.
Tampa Bay, making its first visit to New York this season, began a string of 11 straight games against the American League's top two teams -- the Yankees and.
Zobrist got the pivotal stretch started on a positive note, leading off the game with a triple before scoring on anbase hit.
The Yankees stranded four runners over the first two frames, and Zobrist doubled the Rays' lead with a leadoff homer in the third. Later in the inning, Upton's two-out single platedfor a 3-0 cushion.
Upton, still the only Rays player to complete a cycle, again came up with Kotchman on base in the fifth and launched his 14th home run of the season into the left-field bleachers.
Niemann was pulled after walkingwith one out in the eighth, and came in and retired and Cano to keep it a 5-1 game.
Zobrist, who entered play tied for the MLB lead in doubles with 28, had a chance for the cycle in the ninth but worked his second free pass of the night, taking a payoff pitch inside to fall short of the feat.
put two runners on in the ninth to bring Jeter to the plate. The Yankees' all-time hits leader nearly beat out a slow roller to third, but Rodriguez's throw got him by a step to send New York to its fourth loss in five games.
Jeter is trying to become the first Yankee to reach the 3,000-hit milestone with the club. With two more hits, he will become the 28th player in MLB history to accomplish the feat...Yankees closerwill not play in this year's All-Star Game because of a sore triceps.
|Final - 7.7.2011||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
|Tampa Bay Rays||1||0||2||0||2||0||0||0||0||5||12||0|
|New York Yankees||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||1||6||0|
|WP: Jeff Niemann (4 - 4)
LP: Bartolo Colon (6 - 4)