St. Petersburg, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Nathan Karns rebounded from a shaky beginning and the Tampa Bay Rays got a big lift from their defense to post a 3-2 win over the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field.
Karns (3-1) settled down after allowing two first-inning runs, keeping the Yankees off the board over the remainder of a five-inning stint in which he struck out six. The right-hander was aided by four Tampa relievers that combined for four scoreless frames, as well as a defensive gem from Kevin Kiermaier that helped the Rays win their second straight from New York after dropping Monday's opener of this four-game set.
The Yankees had the tying run on second in the fifth inning when Carlos Beltran singled to center field. Kiermaier quickly got to the ball and fired a perfect strike to the plate that nabbed Mark Teixeira for what turned out to be the game's pivotal play.
Joey Butler paced the Rays offensively by going 2-for-3 with an RBI single. Steven Souza Jr. added a solo homer and Asdrubal Cabrera collected his 1,000th career hit on an RBI double in the second.
Teixeira and Brian McCann each finished 2-for-4 with an RBI for New York, which had not dropped back-to-back games since April 14-15 at Baltimore.
Yankees starter Adam Warren (2-2) set career bests with seven strikeouts and seven innings pitched, but surrendered all three runs to take the loss.
The Yankees spotted Warren a 2-0 lead after capitalizing on a bout of wildness from Karns in the top half of the opening inning. However, Souza homered on the first pitch he saw in the bottom of the frame, and the Rays struck twice more in the second to pull ahead.
Logan Forsythe's leadoff double preceded Cabrera's milestone hit that tied the game at 2-2. Butler followed with a blooper that dropped in between three defenders in short right field that brought home Cabrera without a throw.
"It's kind of special," Cabrera said of reaching 1,000 hits. "The big thing for me, we get a win, too."
Warren was outstanding thereafter, yielding just three more singles and setting down 10 straight to complete his outing. The Yankees' offense was not able to take him off the hook, however, as Tampa Bay successfully protected the lead behind its pitching and defense.
New York's best chance to tie came when Teixeira and McCann delivered consecutive two-out singles off Karns in the fifth. Beltran then shot a base hit up the middle, which Kiermaier cradled on a hop and made an on-line throw that beat Teixeira as catcher Bobby Wilson applied the tag.
"Probably the play of the game," Rays manager Kevin Cash remarked.
The Tampa bullpen shut the door after that. Xavier Cedeno and Brandon Gomes teamed up for two scoreless innings, Kevin Jepsen stranded a runner in the eighth and Brad Boxberger fanned two in a 1-2-3 ninth to nail down his 10th save.
Karns had gotten his night off to a rocky beginning, walking Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner on eight straight pitches to open the first. Teixeira and McCann turned both free passes into runs on singles to right that gave New York the early upper hand.
The Yankees threatened again an inning later, putting runners at the corners with one out on singles by Didi Gregorius and Jacoby Ellsbury. Karns came up with a big strikeout of Gardner, though, then retired Alex Rodriguez to thwart the scoring chance.
"We got the two free passes and the couple of base hits (in the first inning), and then we weren't able to do much after that," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Warren's previous career best for innings pitched came in a six-inning relief stint against Oakland on June 13, 2013 ... After belting 12 homers in their first seven meetings with the Rays this season, the Yankees have not gone deep in the last two losses ... Tampa Bay is just 5-15 when giving up the game's first run this season, but has rallied to win in each of the last two days ... Cedeno has now had eight consecutive scoreless appearances since being acquired on April 27, the longest stretch to start a Rays tenure since Joaquin Benoit began with 13 straight in 2010.