The New York Yankees wasted a golden chance to gain ground in the AL East.

Nick Franklin hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the sixth inning and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the AL wild-card leading Yankees 6-3 on Tuesday night.

Hobbled Alex Rodriguez and Greg Bird homered for the Yankees, who remain three games behind division leading Toronto, which lost 3-2 at Atlanta.

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"It's tough that we're not able to hold them down," New York manager Joe Girardi said after Tampa Bay won for the third time in nine games.

The Yankees have lost six of eight.

Franklin, who entered when shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera left after four innings with a left knee strain, put the Rays up 4-3 on his homer off Nick Rumbelow (1-1).

"He came up with the big hit right there and got us the win," Rays starter Jake Odorizzi said.

J.P. Arencibia made it 6-3 with a two-run single in the eighth.

Rodriguez hit his 32nd homer this season and 686th of his career off Odorizzi (8-8) in the first hours after the team learned he is playing with a bruised left knee. Rodriguez moved past Craig Biggio into sole possession of 21st place all-time with his 3,061st hit.

Rodriguez had an MRI earlier Tuesday and was also examined by team orthopedist Daniel Murphy. It is thought that Rodriguez was hurt sliding in Sunday's game against Toronto.

"He's fine," Girardi said.

Odorizzi allowed three runs and three hits in six innings. Brandon Gomes pitched the ninth for his first save, getting a fly ball from Brett Gardner with runners on second and third and two outs.

Bird gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead on a two-run homer in the fourth that came on the 10th pitch of the at-bat.

Logan Forsythe had an RBI single in the first and Tampa Bay went ahead 2-1 when Mikie Mahtook doubled, stole third and scored on catcher Brian McCann's throwing error in the second.

Tampa Bay center fielder Kevin Kiermaier took away a potential game-tying extra-base hit from Gardner with a running catch on the warning track to end the seventh.

"He's an amazing center fielder," Girardi said. "He's as good as I've seen."

Rodriguez nearly had his second opposite-field homer of the game in the eighth, but his leadoff drive was caught on the warning track.

Adam Warren gave up two runs and six hits over four innings in a spot start for the Yankees.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Yankees: Girardi said RHP Nathan Eovaldi remains shut down from throwing.

Rays: X-rays on Cabrera were negative. ... Reliever Jake McGee (left knee) could throw a simulated game Thursday.

HEAVY HITTERS

Boxing legend Jake LaMotta watched part of batting practice on the field. LaMotta, 93, also took part in a program at the Ted Williams Museum, which is located at Tropicana Field.

MORE ALEX

Rodriguez has 55 homers against the Rays, the most of any opponent. ... He has gone deep eight times against Tampa Bay this season, five at Tropicana Field. ... Rodriguez has six homers in his last 11 games after having just three in a 32-game stretch.

EMPTY ELLSBURY

Yankees leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury went 0 for 4 and is hitless in 25 at-bats.

"He's got to fight through it," Girardi said. "This is a guy we really need."

UP NEXT

Yankees: Rookie RHP Luis Severino (3-3) looks to bounce back Wednesday night after allowing a career-high six earned runs over 2 1-3 innings in Friday's 11-5 loss to Toronto.

Rays: RHP Chris Archer (12-11), Wednesday night's starter, is 5-1 against the Yankees. The lone loss came in his last start against them on Sept 6.