Yankees aim to bounce back vs. Rays

( - The New York Yankees hope to reverse their recent fortunes at home on Friday when they begin a three-game series versus the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium.

New York fell for the third time in five tries on its current eight-game homestand on Thursday, as it dropped a 4-2 decision to former teammate Robinson Cano and the Seattle Mariners.

Jacoby Ellsbury hit his first homer as a Yankee and fellow offseason pickup Brian McCann had an RBI single in the loss, but starter Hiroki Kuroda (2-3) was reached for four runs -- three earned -- over six innings.

New York's offense has been the culprit of late, as it has managed to hit at just a .197 clip since returning home.

"Sometimes pitchers are going to be better than you," said shortstop Derek Jeter, who has struck out seven times on this homestand.

It doesn't figure to get any easier on Friday when the Yanks go up against former American League Cy Young Award winner David Price, who has lost two of his last three starts. Price was awful in a loss to Chicago on Sunday, as he surrendered eight runs (6 earned) and nine hits in six innings, dropping him to 3-2 on the year to go along with a 4.75 ERA.

Since winning his first two decisions of the year Price has given up 15 earned runs on 25 hits in his past three outings.

"For about 90 percent of the time I'm out there, I execute extremely well," Price said. "So it's just making sure I can continue to execute out there every pitch and then I think I'll be on to something pretty good."

Price is 9-5 lifetime versus the Yankees, but was hit hard for six runs in five innings in a loss to them back on April 17.

New York, meanwhile, hands the ball to Vidal Nuno, who may figure prominently in the Yankees' plans now that Ivan Nova is lost for the season after Tommy John surgery and Michael Pineda's back issues.

Nuno has made two starts for the Yankees and has allowed three runs in 9 1/3 innings. One of those starts came against the Rays, who managed just three hits and were unable to cross the plate on him in five innings.

"Every day is an opportunity, just showing I can belong here and get people out," Nuno said.

Tampa comes into this series on a high note after taking both ends of a doubleheader Thursday against the Boston Red Sox, winning game one, 2-1, while prevailing in the nightcap, 6-5.

The Rays had lost three in a row heading into Thursday.

"I'm so proud of our guys, the way they handled the entire moment," said Rays manager Joe Maddon. "Nobody complained about anything. They just went out and played really good baseball for 18 innings. It was pretty astounding to watch the whole thing play out."

Tampa split a four-game series with the Yankees at Tropicana Field earlier in the year. The Rays, though, have won six of their last seven in the Bronx.