Yankees take aim a series victory against Rays

Just a single game back of first place in the American game divisional series with the Tampa Bay Rays following yesterday's heroics by catcher Jorge Posada.

Six days after losing his starting job, Posada found himself outside of the dugout on Saturday, waving in vindication to the Yankee Stadium crowd.

Posada hit a grand slam and drove in six runs to lead the Yankees to a 9-2 victory over the Rays, building his best offensive game in almost five years after spending the last five games on the Yankees bench.

"It's tough to sit around," Posada said.

The last time Posada had six RBI was September 6, 2006 at Kansas City. His career high is seven.

Struggling mightily, Posada had been taken out of the lineup last Sunday by manager Joe Girardi. But he batted eighth in the order on Saturday and went 3- for-5, with his 10th career grand slam highlighting a five-run fifth.

"We liked the at-bats he had off (Rays starter Jeremy) Hellickson before and we decided that we were going to play him today," said Girardi. "Low and behold, you look up and it's the bottom of the fifth and we're ahead 7-0 and he's got six of the RBI."

Posada sparked a 15-hit outburst by the Yankees, who won for just the third time in seven contests to pull within one game of Boston for first in the American League East. Curtis Granderson also homered and the top five players in the New York lineup each had two hits.

Phil Hughes (3-4) started for the first time in 11 days and pitched six innings for the win, allowing two runs on four hits and a walk while striking out six.

The Yankees improved to 6-5 against the Rays this season.

Hellickson (10-8) took the loss -- his first to the Yankees -- after being charged with four runs and eight hits in 4 1/3 innings.

The Rays go with James Shields in this finale, and while his 11-9 record isn't overly impressive, his 2.80 ERA certainly is. Shields earned his MLB-best eighth complete game on Tuesday in a shutout of the Royals. He has already made three starts against the Yankees this season and is just 1-2 in those games despite a sparkling 1.59 ERA.

Shields is 4-10 lifetime versus New York with a 4.25 ERA.

Slated to oppose the outstanding Tampa Bay hurler today is New York's A.J. Burnett, who moves up to take the place of an injured Freddy Garcia. A cut on his pitching hand is the culprit for Garcia, who has enjoyed a surprisingly successful campaign. Burnett is winless in his last seven starts and is 8-9 this season with a 4.60 ERA.

Burnett is 0-1 versus the Rays so far this season, but he does own a 12-8 lifetime record versus Tampa Bay with a 3.45 ERA.