Bronx, NY – Russell Martin capped a five-run third inning with a three-run homer, leading the New York Yankees to a 6-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in the rubber match of a three-game set at Yankee Stadium.
Alex Rodriguez knocked in a pair of runs and Hiroki Kuroda struck out 10 in six innings to earn the win. Kuroda (14-10) yielded four runs on four hits and two walks.
The Yankees won the final two of the series and have a lead of one game over Baltimore in the AL East. The Orioles topped the Oakland Athletics later on Sunday.
Evan Longoria singled home two runs for the Rays, who will leave the Bronx five games behind the division-leading Yankees. Tampa Bay wrapped up a six- game road trip to Baltimore and New York with a 1-5 mark.
Matt Moore (10-11) went the first three innings for Tampa Bay and was charged with five runs on three hits and four walks in the shortest start of his career. The rookie lefty, coming off a four-inning effort five days ago in Baltimore, has dropped four straight starts.
"In the first and second inning I felt really good and I liked our chances from there. That third inning was just atrocious," Moore said.
Moore cruised through the first two innings, but the Yankees batted around and scored five times in the third -- playing both small ball and long ball.
Eduardo Nunez led off with a walk, stole second and scored on a single to right-center field by Derek Jeter. After a Nick Swisher sacrifice advanced Jeter to third, Rodriguez stroked an RBI single to center and Robinson Cano drew a walk before Martin lifted a pitch over the wall in right field for his 17th homer of the season.
"Patience really paid off," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said about his team's approach in the third inning. "(We) had some really good at-bats."
Ben Zobrist, who doubled in the first for the initial Rays hit, led off the fourth with his 17th home run of the season, but the Yankees countered in the bottom of the inning when Nunez reached on an error, stole second and third, then scored on a sacrifice fly from Rodriguez for a 6-1 advantage.
Tampa Bay loaded the bases in the sixth on a pair of walks surrounded by an infield single, and Longoria followed with a bouncer toward third. What appeared to be a double-play grounder instead took a bad hop over the glove of Rodriguez for a two-run single to make it 6-3 and Matt Joyce then bounced into a double play to score another run.
"He ran into some bad luck that inning," Girardi noted about Kuroda. "Otherwise, he pitched really well."
The Rays threatened again in the seventh, but David Phelps caught Desmond Jennings looking at a third strike with two aboard to end the inning.
David Robertson tossed a perfect eighth and Rafael Soriano worked around a Rodriguez error at third in the ninth, getting Jeff Keppinger to ground into a game-ending double play for his 40th save.
The Rays still won the season series, 10-8 ... Kuroda notched his third career 10-strikeout game ... The first nine outs of the game were all strikeouts ... Jeter extended his hitting streak to 12 games. He has 199 hits and is one shy of his eighth 200-hit season ... Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon was ejected in the third inning after umpires warned both dugouts following a Moore pitch that sailed over the head of Curtis Granderson ... Tampa Bay's Sam Fuld left the contest after appearing to suffer a hamstring injury while running out a grounder in the fifth ... Soriano joined Mariano Rivera, John Wetteland and Dave Righetti as Yankees with 40 saves in a season.