(SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Yankees try to avoid a third loss in a row on Thursday evening in the finale of a four-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Chase Whitley will get the start hoping to secure a series split for the Yankees and the right-hander aims to pitch more like his season-debut win over the Rays than the slugfest he was involved in on Saturday versus the Baltimore Orioles.
Whitley made his first start on April 28 and beat the Rays 4-2, holding them to a run on six hits and a walk over five innings. It was his first career start against the Rays after having faced them twice before in relief.
Following a no-decision in Toronto on May 4 in which he logged seven scoreless innings, Whitley was hammered for five runs and three homers over 5 2/3 frames of a setback to the O's. It moved the 25-year-old's earned run average up from 0.75 to 3.06.
Erasmo Ramirez will make his second appearance in this series tonight for the Rays after having thrown two relief innings and allowing two runs in Monday's 11-5 loss. He threw 21 pitches, including 13 for strikes.
The 25-year-old right-hander will make his third start of the season and first since April 25. He is 0-1 with an 8.38 earned run average across nine total appearances this season.
Ramirez will be making his first career start against the Yankees.
Tampa Bay has picked up a pair of wins over New York since that loss on Monday, moving to 3-6 against the Yankees this season.
Nathan Karns rebounded from a shaky beginning to last night's start and got a big lift from his defense as the Rays posted a 3-2 win over the Yankees. Karns allowed two first-inning runs, but kept New York off the board for the rest of his five-frame outing and four Tampa Bay relievers combined for four scoreless frames of work.
Center fielder Kevin Kiermaier also played a big role in the one-run victory with his glove. 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.
"It's kind of special," Cabrera said of reaching 1,000 hits. "The big thing for me, we get a win, too."
While Tampa Bay has won four of six, New York has lost two in a row for the first time since April 14-15. The Yankees haven't dropped three in a row since April 9-11.
"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.
Teixeira and Brian McCann each finished 2-for-4 with an RBI for New York, while starter Adam Warren set career bests with seven strikeouts and seven innings pitched, but surrendered all three runs to take the loss.