The New York Yankees held a 10-game lead in the American League East back on July 18. By the end of play on Tuesday, that lead could be all gone.
New York will try to get back on the winning track when it resumes a three- game set with the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.
The Yankees saw their lead dwindled to two over the weekend, as they dropped two of three to the Baltimore Orioles. The advantage shrunk even further on Monday, as Chris Gimenez drove in two runs, including the deciding score in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift Tampa Bay past the Yanks, 4-3.
With Baltimore's win in Toronto, New York's lead became one over the O's, the lowest it has been since June 13.
"I would love to keep the lead," manager Joe Girardi said. "When you win the division, you don't really care what you win by. You'd just love to keep the lead. That's important."
B.J. Upton homered and scored twice for the Rays, who have won three in a row and are 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees.
James Shields (13-8) went eight innings for the win, allowing five hits and three runs with three walks and five strikeouts. Fernando Rodney stranded a runner on third in a scoreless ninth to earn his 41st save.
"It's one game at a time," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I just loved the way we played today. I thought we were so up for that game from the first pitch. ... I was really proud of our guys."
Alex Rodriguez made his return to the lineup for the first time since July 24 thanks to a fractured left hand, going 1-for-4 with a run scored for the Yankees, who have dropped four of five.
David Robertson (1-5) was charged with the winning run in his one relief inning. It spoiled a solid outing from CC Sabathia, who gave up eight hits and three runs in seven full frames.
"It's not a good feeling," the Yankees' Robinson Cano said. "You lose some games, and you just want to win games. You don't want to put your head down. We've just got to turn the page; just be ready for tomorrow."
As if things weren't bad enough for the Yanks, Cano said he was bothered by a sore hip after the game and is questionable for Tuesday's affair.
That would be good news for Rays' righty Alex Cobb, who is 8-8 with a 4.39 ERA. Cobb did not get a decision on Wednesday in Texas, as the Rangers reached him for four runs (3 earned) and eight hits in only 4 2/3 innings of an 8-4 win.
The 24-year-old hurler didn't seem to mind being lifted one out short of earning a win
"What did (the bullpen) give up, one hit?" Cobb said. "That's unreal against a team like that. That's why Joe did what he did. You can't second-guess anything. That was an awesome job by them."
Cobb lost to the Yankees the last time he faced them and is 0-1 in two starts against them with a 3.46 ERA.
New York will respond with veteran right-hander Freddy Garcia, who hasn't pitched since a no-decision against Cleveland back on Aug. 26. Garcia gave up a pair of runs and four hits in 4 2/3 innings of that one and is 7-5 on the year with a 4.90 ERA.
Unlike Cobb, Garcia appeared miffed at being pulled one out shy of being eligible for the win.
"Nothing surprises me at this point right now, man," Garcia said. "They made the decision, so there's nothing I can do about it. I'm just looking to my next start and trying to pass the fifth inning."
Garcia has had some success versus the Rays over the course of his career, going 9-2 with a 3.28 ERA in 18 games (17 starts).
Tampa has won eight of 13 matchups with the Yanks this season, including six of seven at the Trop.