Yankees hope to get on track vs. Rays

(SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Yankees try to get themselves on the right track Friday when they open a three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.

New York has struggled offensively in the early going and has dropped three straight series to open a year for the first time since 1991. However, it was the Yanks' bullpen that was the culprit in their latest loss, as the group surrendered five runs in the sixth inning in a 7-5 loss.

Alex Rodriguez homered and ended 2-for-3 for the Yankees, who will be trying to avoid their first 3-7 start since 1989.

"It's frustrating and not the way you want to start," New York manager Joe Girardi said. "We have to start winning series or it becomes a long year."

Hoping to reverse their fortunes on Friday will be right-hander Adam Warren, who pitched well his first time out, but was tagged with the loss. Warren gave up five hits and two runs (1 earned) to the Boston Red Sox on Saturday, but was on the wrong end of the 8-4 decision.

This will be Warren's first start against the Rays, but he has faced them 10 times out of the bullpen and is 0-1 against them with a 3.06 ERA.

New York could have outfielder Brett Gardner back in the lineup tonight after missing the last two games with a sore wrist. Gardner was hit by a pitch in Monday's opener with the O's.

Tampa, though, could find itself shorthanded on Friday, as Evan Longoria left Thursday's game in the eighth after getting hit by a pitch in the left hip. Longoria, who has the majors' longest active games played streak at 252, will be re-evaluated on Friday.

"He got dinged pretty good, but we've got a flight to factor in, just sitting and getting up in the air and stuff," manager Kevin Cash said. "We'll evaluate it (Friday)."

Tampa rode 11 strikeouts from Chris Archer on Thursday to beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 4-2.

The Rays will hand the ball to Nathan Karns on Friday. Karns picked up his first major league win on Sunday in Miami, as he held the Marlins to two runs (1 earned) and two hits over seven innings.

This is the first time he'll be facing the Yankees.

Tampa won 11 of its 18 meetings with the Yankees last season, but the teams split 10 games at the Trop.