NEW YORK (Reuters) - The New York Yankees extended their lead in the American League East to 2 games over the Tampa Bay Rays with an 8-3 victory over their divisional rivals on Tuesday.
Nick Swisher hit a home run and Lance Berkman recorded a two-run double to help the World Series champions storm to a 5-0 first inning lead while starter Phil Hughes tossed 6-1/3 innings for his 17th win of the season.
Hughes won despite battling control issues that led to five walks and was charged with all three runs, but in his first full season as a starter, the right-hander could find himself as part of New York's rotation in the playoffs.
"Whatever my role is, you'd like to be pitching well," Hughes told reporters. "Whether it's bullpen or starting, it's still throwing the baseball over the plate and having confidence."
Tampa Bay outfielder Carl Crawford delivered an RBI single to pull the visitors within 5-3 in the top of the seventh, but Robinson Cano answered with a two-run double in the bottom half of the inning to increase the Yankees' lead.
Tampa Bay (89-61) beat New York (92-59) twice last week to briefly take over the division lead but have now lost their last three games.
"We've got to finish strong," Shield said. "This is disappointing; there's no doubt. We've got to keep going.
"There's nothing else I can really say. We've got to play with our hearts and our guts and go back to old school baseball where nothing else matters but winning."
Matt Joyce homered in the second for Tampa Bay and finished 2-for-3.
Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter recorded two hits each for New York and Curtis Granderson added an RBI single one night after blasting two homers and totaling five RBIs.
(Reporting by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by John O'Brien)