Bronx, NY – Vernon Wells delivered a pinch-hit three-run double in the bottom of the seventh inning to help lift the New York Yankees to a 7-5 win over the visiting Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday afternoon.
The Yankees were down 5-3 after prized Tampa Bay rookie Wil Myers hit his first major league home run, a grand slam off starter CC Sabathia (8-5) with two outs in the sixth.
Rays reliever Joel Peralta (1-4) ran into trouble in the seventh, walking two around a one-out Lyle Overbay double before giving way to Jake McGee, who inherited a bases-loaded jam.
McGee almost shutdown the threat, but issued a two-out walk to David Adams before Wells cleared the bases with a drive to right-center that bounced above the outfield wall into a fan's glove. The ruling on the field was spectator interference, not a ground-rule double, and the umpires allowed the third run to score.
"Through his struggles, I still think his at-bats off of left-handers have been pretty good," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said about Wells, "and that's why I ran him out there today against McGee."
David Robertson struck out two Tampa Bay batters in a perfect eighth and Mariano Rivera pitched around an infield single in the ninth to earn his 26th save of the season.
"That's the difference between us really being one of the elite right now. We have just permitted too many late games to get away from us," said Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon.
Evan Longoria, leading off the second, crushed a pitch from Sabathia over the center-field wall to put the Rays on the board first at Yankee Stadium.
Rookie Zoilo Almonte came up twice with the bases loaded and knocked in three runs to give New York the lead. He plated a pair with a single to center in the third, which began with a costly error by Tampa Bay starter Alex Colome, and drew a walk in the fifth.
Colome, who was making his second major league start, failed to catch a toss from James Loney as he tried to cover first base. Robinson Cano and Travis Hafner both singled later in the third to load the bases, setting the stage for Almonte's two-out hit.
The Yankees took advantage of another Tampa Bay misplay two innings later. With Cano on board via a one-out walk, Loney botched a routine double-play ball as he made a wild throw to second base. The error allowed Cano and Hafner to get into scoring position, and Colome's outing was done after back-to-back walks.
Tampa Bay escaped further damage with two strikeouts from Alex Torres, and the Rays seized the lead on Myers' blast. The 22-year-old drove an outside pitch the other way and watched it just elude the glove of center fielder Brett Gardner before bouncing off the top of the wall in right-center and into the seats.
The Yankees have taken two of three in this four-game set ... Cano finished with four walks ... Sabathia gave up six hits and walked two in seven innings of work ... Colome walked five and allowed five hits. He hasn't allowed an earned run in his two big league outings ... The Rays ended their string of 29 straight games without committing multiple errors ... Tampa Bay had beaten Sabathia four straight times.