Published November 20, 2014
NEW YORK (AP) — Carlos Pena homered twice and Ben Zobrist and B.J. Upton also connected as the Tampa Bay Rays battered another Yankees ace, beating New York 8-6 Thursday night for their sixth straight victory.
A day after tagging A.J. Burnett, the majors' best team came out swinging against Andy Pettitte (5-1).
Jason Bartlett led off with a double, Carl Crawford followed with an RBI single and then Zobrist homered. Just like that, it was 3-0, the crowd quieted and pitching coach Dave Eiland headed to the mound.
James Shields (5-1) got sharper while pitching into the eighth inning and Tampa Bay improved to a remarkable 17-4 on the road and 30-11 overall. The Rays swept the two-game series between the clubs that began the day with the best records in baseball.
Derek Jeter's two-out, two-run double in the ninth drew the Yankees close, but Rafael Soriano retired Brett Gardner on a grounder for his 11th save in 11 chances. On Wednesday night, New York scored four times in the ninth in a 10-6 loss.
Juan Miranda homered and tripled for the Yankees in their third straight loss.
Down early, Jeter sent Shields' first pitch whizzing past his head for a single. The Yankees eventually made it 4-all and nearly took the lead, but Crawford's sensational catch in left field limited Randy Winn to a sacrifice fly in the fourth. Crawford singled home the go-ahead run the next inning.
Shields retired a dozen batters in a row until Mark Teixeira's single finished him, and moved to 2-7 lifetime against the Yankees.
Pettitte had won nine straight decisions — including four in last year's postseason — since losing at Tampa Bay on Oct. 3. Yet he looked nothing like the pitcher who started with a 16-5 career mark vs. the Rays.
Pena was in a 6-for-64 slump before chasing Pettitte with a leadoff home run in the sixth for a 7-4 lead. Pena's solo drive in the eighth off Chan Ho Park marked his 18th career multihomer game.
Zobrist drove in three runs and ended his drought of 159 at-bats without a home run, and Upton added a solo shot. Pettitte had allowed only one homer in his first nine starts this season.
A night after stealing six bases, the Rays were too aggressive at the outset. Gabe Kapler was easily nailed trying to stretch a single to end the second, then Zobrist was picked off first base to finish the third. Pettitte's move remains masterful — the lefty has 98 career pickoffs.
Both teams employed several exaggerated shifts, and they often worked. Pena grounded into a 5-6-3 double play, and the Rays turned Teixeira's grounder to short right field into a 4-1 putout.
NOTES: Pena has five homers in 38 career at-bats against Pettitte. ... Yankees RF Nick Swisher (sore left biceps) returned to the lineup. ... Yankees OF Marcus Thames is day to day with a sprained left ankle. He accidentally stepped on his own rolling bat after a single Wednesday. ... The Hall of Fame will host its annual World Series weekend starting Saturday. Among the items on display in Cooperstown will be a 2009 Yankees championship ring, Alex Rodriguez's spikes, Jeter's bat and CC Sabathia's size-15 shoes.