St. Petersburg, FL – Chris Gimenez drove in two runs, including the deciding score in the bottom of the eighth inning as the Tampa Bay Rays clipped the New York Yankees, 4-3, in the opener of a three-game set.
B.J. Upton homered and scored twice for the Rays, who have won three in a row.
James Shields (13-8) went eight innings for the win, allowing five hits and three runs with three walks and five strikeouts. Fernando Rodney stranded a runner on third in a scoreless ninth to earn his 41st save.
"We need to take things easy. This is just one game," said Rays manager Joe Maddon. "I loved the way we played. I thought we were up, had jump from the first pitch. I was really proud of the way they played."
Alex Rodriguez made his return to the lineup for the first time since July 24 thanks to a fractured left hand, going 1-for-4 with a run scored for the Yankees, who have dropped four of five.
Eric Chavez, Raul Ibanez and Russell Martin drove in a run each as New York's lead in the AL East shrunk to one game over the Orioles, after Baltimore's win in Toronto earlier Monday.
"I'm always positive. That's my personality. I believe they're going to do it," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi when asked if he's starting to panic in a tight division race. "That's who they are and I believe in them."
David Robertson (1-5) was charged with the winning run in his one relief inning. It spoiled a solid outing from CC Sabathia, who gave up eight hits and three runs in seven full frames.
Sabathia exited in a 3-3 deadlock, and Robertson was greeted by a Jeff Keppinger single, but his pinch runner, Rich Thompson, was caught stealing second. Ryan Roberts singled two batters later, then successfully swiped second before coming in when Gimenez snuck a ball through the right side.
"This was pretty much the biggest at-bat I had in my life," said Gimenez. "I might as well have fun with it."
Rodney fanned Rodriguez to start the ninth, but Chavez reached when Elliot Johnson's throw to first sailed high and wide. Eduardo Nunez, the pinch runner, stole second and moved to third on an Ibanez grounder to first. But he was left there as pinch-hitter Curtis Granderson fanned swinging.
Tampa pushed a run across in the second thanks to singles from Keppinger, Ben Francisco and Gimenez.
Upton began the third with a homer to left-center, but the Yankees responded with three in the fourth on a Chavez sacrifice fly, Ibanez triple and Martin single.
Upton walked to start the home fifth, then moved up when Ben Zobrist singled, went to third on a stolen base and scored on an Evan Longoria groundout to tie the game at 3-3.
Tampa Bay has won eight of the 13 meetings this season with the Yankees, including six of seven in Florida ... Gimenez notched his first multi-RBI game since May 22 ... Shields has worked at least eight innings in six of his 2012 starts, while Sabathia has worked at least seven innings in 16 outings this year ... Maddon was ejected in the eighth inning for arguing the Thompson play.