St. Petersburg, FL – Ichiro Suzuki delivered a tie-breaking two-run single with two outs in the top of the ninth inning to lift the New York Yankees to a 4-3 come-from-behind win over the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.
Suzuki finished 2-for-4 while also scoring the game-tying run in the eighth inning, with his efforts enabling the Yankees to record only their third victory in their last 15 visits to St. Petersburg. Robinson Cano and Jayson Nix also collected a pair of hits for New York.
"I think he (Suzuki) swung better the last week or so," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. "But it's a huge hit ... hopefully, it really gets him going because we've seen that he can get extremely hot."
David Robertson (1-0) picked up the win after striking out two during a perfect bottom of the eighth in relief of Phil Hughes, with Mariano Rivera notching his sixth save of the year despite allowing a solo homer to Evan Longoria in the ninth.
Hughes worked the first seven innings, permitting just two runs on six hits while striking out six.
Suzuki's go-ahead hit off Fernando Rodney also kept 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner David Price (0-2) winless on the season. The Tampa ace came through with eight-plus strong innings, but gave up a single to Cano to start the ninth and was ultimately charged with New York's third run.
"I thought he threw pretty well, actually, really well I thought," said Rays manager Joe Maddon. "Just unfortunate, man. We did not score enough runs. Obviously, we're doing better with that, but I think their guy has to get some credit."
James Loney went 2-for-4 and Jose Molina had an RBI single for the Rays, who came in having won a season-high four in a row to begin their current six-game homestand.
Price took a 2-1 lead into the eighth and had set down nine straight Yankee hitters until Suzuki and Nix broke the streak with consecutive singles to put runners at the corners with one out. Brett Gardner then grounded out to second, with Suzuki crossing the plate with the equalizing run.
After Robertson mowed down the Rays in the bottom of the inning, Cano lashed a base hit to begin the ninth and end Price's evening. He later stole second to prompt Tampa manager Joe Maddon to have Rodney intentionally walk Travis Hafner, and Rodney issued another free pass to Lyle Overbay to load the bases.
Rodney was able to get Chris Stewart out on a harmless pop up, but Suzuki drove the first pitch he saw up the middle to bring home Cano and Hafner and put the Yankees up 4-2.
Longoria cut the margin by greeting Rivera with a leadoff homer in Tampa's last at-bat, but the Yankee closer retired the next three hitters to nail down the victory.
Hughes' night didn't begin smoothly, as he walked Desmond Jennings to begin the bottom of the first and Ryan Roberts followed with a double down the left- field line before Ben Zobrist lofted a sacrifice fly to quickly put the Rays ahead.
He settled down afterward, yielding only three hits over the next five frames to keep the game close.
Price, on the other hand, breezed through the first three innings prior to running into some trouble in the fourth.
The Yankees caught a break when Price struck out Eduardo Nunez on a pitch that got by Molina and enabled the leadoff man to reach first. Nunez then took third on Cano's single before Vernon Wells slapped a ground ball that got through the right side of the infield to tie the game at 1-1.
The score remained that way until the bottom of the seventh, when Tampa's Matt Joyce drew a leadoff walk and advanced a base on Loney's one-out single. Molina then slashed a base hit to right to plate Joyce and send the Rays back ahead.
Price became the first reigning Cy Young winner to have his team lose his first five starts since Minnesota dropped Frank Viola's first seven in 1989 ... Longoria's homer extended his hitting streak to 10 games, and he's now reached base safely in 34 straight contests dating back to Sept. 19 of last season, the longest active streak in the majors ... New York's Kevin Youkilis sat out for a third straight day while continuing to deal with a stiff back.