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Brignac fires Rays past Yankees to top of East

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (Reuters) - Reid Brignac smashed a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th inning to lift the Tampa Bay Rays to a 1-0 win over the New York Yankees on Monday and into top spot in the American League East.

The rookie infielder broke the deadlock by blasting a pitch over the right-field wall against relief pitcher Sergio Mitre to vault the Rays (87-56) a half a game ahead of the Yankees(87-57).

An unlikely game-winner, Brignac only came into the contest when Tampa Bay's Carl Crawford was ejected for arguing a strike call in the ninth.

"(It was) unbelievable. You just feel like you're floating on clouds," Brignac told reporters. "I had a couple of walk-offs in the minor leagues, but nothing compared to this."

The pitching duel between Cy Young Award candidates CC Sabathia and David Price finished all square with both left-handers tossed eight scoreless innings.

Yankees ace Sabathia (19-6) struck out nine batters and allowed just two hits while Price (17-6) surrendered three hits in the no-decision.

Tampa Bay reliever Grant Balfour was credited with the win after pitching the top of the 11th as the home team used three pitchers in the last three innings.

New York threatened to score in the 10th but pinch-runner Brett Gardner was thrown out while trying to steal third for the final out of the inning, sending the visitors to their fourth straight loss.

The surging Rays have won three of four and will face the Yankees six more times in 10 days during a stretch that could decide the division.

"We've got to bounce back," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. "We've had three tough losses on this road trip, really tough losses, but this is a team with a lot of character and we'll bounce back."

(Reporting by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Nick Mulvenney)