Rodriguez hits 2-run homer, helps Rays sweep Yanks
NEW YORK (AP) — One night it was Logan Forsythe with the big hit. On another it was James Loney. Then Sean Rodriguez stepped up for the streaking Tampa Bay Rays.
Just the way manager Joe Maddon likes his three-game sweeps.
Rodriguez hit a tiebreaking homer in the sixth inning and drove in three runs, helping the Rays extend their longest winning string this year to five and handing the New York Yankees their season-worst fifth straight loss, 6-3 Wednesday.
“We’re getting a different bus driver on a daily basis, that’s kind of neat,” Maddon said. “That’s who we have to be. We’re not necessarily built around one guy. We’re built as group. Everybody’s got to do their job.”
The Rays won all three games at Yankee Stadium for their first road sweep since taking three in the Bronx Sept. 24-26.
After veering way off course early, Tampa Bay has that bus back on track. The Rays improved to 11 games under .500 for the first time in a month after falling 18 under on June 10, and the team is finally buying into Maddon’s plan.
“As a team we’re starting to flow better, guys are starting to understand each other better,” Rodriguez said.
Ben Zobrist doubled twice among his three hits for the Rays, but ran into two outs. Rodriguez was thrown out trying to stretch an RBI single to the wall in right field in the fourth.
“That’s the one thing we’re trying to do, it’s turn up that aggressiveness dial,” Maddon said.
Brett Gardner hit a leadoff homer and an RBI single against Jake Odorizzi (4-7) and added another hit for the Yankees. New York could muster little other than Brian McCann’s long ball on a sweltering day at Yankee Stadium. Humidity made the temperature feel as if it were in the high 90s.
New York is below .500 at 41-42 for the first time since April 11. The last time the Yankees were below .500 during the second half was in 2007 when they were 42-43. They went 52-25 the rest of the way to earn the wild card.
“I still believe in this team,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “We just need to play better. It’s a lot of different phases. You can look at almost every phase and say we need to play better and we have to find a way to get it done.”
Joel Peralta tied Esteban Yan’s record for appearances with the Rays at 266 when he pitched a scoreless eighth inning. Brad Boxberger was perfect in the ninth for his first save.
Brandon Guyer had an RBI single in the fifth. The Rays put runners on base in every inning but the second against Vidal Nuno (2-5) and three relievers.
Tampa Bay scored its first run on McCann’s passed ball in the third. McCann made up for it in the bottom half, homering into the short porch in right field with two outs.
Despite hitting .220 coming in, McCann batted third because Jacoby Ellsbury was given a day off for being “kind of beat up,” according to Girardi.
After the Rays tied it on Rodriguez’s RBI single to right in the fourth — he was thrown out by Alfonso Soriano, a call upheld by review — Gardner put the Yankees back on top 3-2 with a bounced single.
In this back-and-forth game, the Rays immediately tied it up in the fifth on Guyer’s RBI single to left field. But Zobrist was thrown out by Gardner trying to score from second.
Forsythe led off the sixth with a single to chase Nuno. Rodriguez greeted reliever Shawn Kelley with a drive just left of Monument Park for the first two-run lead of the day.
Nuno yielded four runs — three earned — and eight hits in five-plus innings.
“It’s just going out there and trying to compete and trying not to give up the middle of the plate,” Nuno said.
Odorizzi was also pulled in the sixth. He gave up three runs and eight hits. It was the most runs he’s allowed since being charged with four on June 5.
NOTES: The Chicago White Sox claimed RHP Angel Sanchez off waivers from the Rays and assigned him to Class-A Winston-Salem. ... Yankees 1B Mark Teixeira had fluid drained from his left knee. Girardi said Teixeira had been playing with the problem for a short while. “We believe he will be in the lineup tomorrow,” Girardi said. ... New York signed Venezuelan SS Diego Castillo, Baseball America’s No. 24 international prospect. ... Up next: The Yankees start an 11-game road trip in Minnesota on Thursday. The Rays face the Tigers in Detroit in the final stop of a 10-game trip.