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Rays down struggling Yankees 5-2, AL East tied

September 4, 2012
By FRED GOODALL - AP Sports Writer , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

ST. PETERSBURG (AP) - Evan Longoria hit a go-ahead homer and the Tampa Bay Rays beat New York 5-2 on Tuesday night to drop the struggling Yankees into a tie for first place in the AL East.

Coupled with Baltimore's 12-0 win at Toronto, the Yankees fell into a tie for the division lead with the surging Orioles after sitting atop the standings by themselves for 84 consecutive days - New York's longest streak since 2004.

Desmond Jennings and B.J. Upton also homered for the third-place Rays, who pulled within 1 1/2 games of the Orioles and Yankees. Tampa Bay trailed by 10 1/2 games at the end of play on July 18.

New York opened its largest lead of the year that day (10 games) but is 19-26 since. The Yankees' biggest cushion in a season in which they failed to finish first was six games in 1933, according to STATS LLC.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi wasn't around to see the end of this one. He was ejected by plate umpire Tony Randazzo in the fourth inning for arguing after Chris Dickerson was called out on strikes.

Longoria hit a two-run shot off Freddy Garcia (7-6), wiping out a 2-1 deficit in the third inning. Jennings and Upton delivered back-to-back solo shots in the fifth, giving Alex Cobb (9-8) and Tampa Bay's bullpen all the offensive support they'd need against the Yankees' sputtering lineup.

Robinson Cano matched a career high for New York with his 29th homer, a two-run shot off Cobb, who allowed four hits over seven innings. Fernando Rodney earned his major league-best 42nd save in 44 opportunities.

The Yankees, who have lost five of six, finished with six hits. It was the fifth consecutive games they've been held to six or fewer - their longest such stretch since going six straight from Aug. 30 to Sept. 5, 1990.

It appeared Dickerson wanted timeout in the fourth, but Randazzo did not grant it and Dickerson went down looking to end the inning. Dickerson didn't seem to like the call and moments later Girardi came storming out of the dugout, yanked his cap off his head and argued face-to-face with Randazzo.

Before heading back to the dugout, Girardi kicked dirt in the batter's box.

Alex Rodriguez went 1 for 4 with a ninth-inning infield hit in his second game since spending six weeks on the disabled list with a broken left hand. Curtis Granderson returned to the starting lineup after sitting out most of two games with a sore right hamstring and went 0 for 3.

Cano played despite experiencing tightness in his left hip reaching for a grounder that got past him for the game-deciding hit during the eighth inning of Monday's 4-3 loss to the Rays. He got treatment following the game and again early Tuesday before Girardi penciled him into the lineup.

The slugger has at least one hit in 13 of 14 games against Tampa Bay this season, including the past 11 - a stretch in which he's batted .438 (18 for 42) against a pitching staff that currently leads the major leagues in ERA, opponents' batting average and the AL in strikeouts.

Longoria homered for the sixth time in 26 games since being activated following a three-month stint on the disabled list with a partially torn left hamstring. It was his 10th of the season, coming on a 2-2 pitch after Garcia prolonged the inning with a two-out walk to Ben Zobrist.

Jennings and Upton homered five pitches apart to begin the fifth. Upton, who hit a solo shot off CC Sabathia in Monday's series opener, also doubled on a 3-0 pitch to drive in Tampa Bay's first run of the night.

Garcia allowed five runs and five hits in 5 1-3 innings. The loss was the right-hander's first since July 30.



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