By Larry Fine
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Tampa Bay Rays cemented their status as the best team in baseball this season by beating World Series champions New York 10-6 at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday.
The Rays, who had dropped 11 of their last 15 games against New York, including their last seven at Yankee Stadium, improved their record to 29-11 and opened up a four-game lead over their AL East rivals.
"To come here, where we have not played well with any consistency, I just wanted to teach ourselves a lesson -- which is that we can play well in this ballpark," Rays manager Joe Maddon told reporters.
"We need to play better baseball here and we did today."
The Rays got a lead-off home run from Jason Bartlett, cranked out 15 hits off a trio of New York pitchers and ran wild on the bases with six steals.
"They swung the bat and (starter) Wade Davis threw the ball well," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. "They played a good game. The bottom line, it's one game."
Third baseman Evan Longoria and catcher John Jaso both had three hits and two runs batted in (RBIs) for the Rays.
"I thought we played a great game tonight. We did everything right, said manager Maddon. "I just loved our effort, our execution."
The Rays scored single runs in the first and third innings and broke it open with four runs in the fourth for a 6-0 lead.
New York closed to 6-2, the second run coming on Alex Rodriguez's 589th career home run, but the Rays responded with a four-run outburst in the eighth.
It turned out they needed the extra cushion.
Rays reliever Andy Sonnanstine gave up four runs in the bottom of the ninth before Joaquin Benoit came in to strike out Juan Miranda with men on second and third base to snuff out the rally.
Rays rookie starter Davis, 24, got the win to improve to 4-3. Yankees right-hander A.J. Burnett yielded six runs in 6 and two-thirds innings to drop to 4-2.
Davis said getting the win at Yankee Stadium was special.
The Yankees, who have been hit by injuries, got more bad news on Wednesday when tests showed catcher Jorge Posada had a hairline fracture in the bottom of his right foot from being hit recently with a foul ball and will miss three to four weeks.
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)