NEW YORK (AP) – Brett Gardner hit a bases-loaded single in the ninth inning to give the New York Yankees their sixth straight victory, 5-4 over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday.
With the game tied at 4, Chase Headley started the ninth with a leadoff walk off Brad Boxberger (2-3). Pinch-runner Jacoby Ellsbury stole second and Todd Frazier was hit by a pitch. Adeiny Hechavarria and Tim Beckham miscommunicated on a grounder for the second time in the series to load the bases, prompting a pitching change.
Gardner, who homered in the 11th inning to give the Yankees a 6-5 victory on Thursday, calmly stroked Dan Jennings’ 0-1 fastball up the middle for his second game-winning hit of the series.
Headley and Gary Sanchez homered for New York, which moved a game up on the Boston Red Sox in the American League East. Tampa Bay fell four games behind New York in the division and three behind Kansas City for the second AL Wild Card.
Lucas Duda, acquired from the New York Mets on Thursday, homered for the second consecutive game for Tampa Bay, this one a solo shot that tied it at 4 in the eighth inning. Duda also had a sacrifice fly. Peter Bourjos and Steven Souza Jr. also homered for the Rays, who dropped their sixth consecutive game at Yankee Stadium.
Aroldis Chapman (4-1) worked around a pair of baserunners in the ninth to earn the victory. Chapman threw 11 of his 13 pitches over 100 mph.
Headley’s pinch-hit, two-run homer gave the Yankees a 4-3 lead in the sixth and spoiled Blake Snell’s bid for his first win of the season. The left-hander, who allowed three runs over 5 1/3 innings, hasn’t won since Sept. 22, 2016.
In his second career start, Caleb Smith allowed a pair of runs in 3 1/3 innings.
Rays: 1B Logan Morrison (bruised left heel) was held out of the lineup for the second straight game, but singled as a pinch-hitter. Pitcher Austin Pruitt pinch ran for Morrison two batters later. … OF Kevin Kiermaier (right hip fracture) and INF Daniel Robertson (neck spasms) were scheduled to play their third rehab games with Class-A Charlotte.
Yankees: SS Didi Gregorius appeared to have been injured on Souza’s ninth-inning stolen base. Gregorius was attempting a backhanded tag when Souza arrived at the same time, dislodging the ball. After doubling over in pain, Gregorius was checked by the New York medical staff and remained in the game. He was charged with an error on the play.
In a matchup of rookies, the Rays’ Jake Faria (5-1, 2.67 ERA) opposes Jordan Montgomery (7-5, 3.92 ERA) in Sunday’s series finale. Faria will be the first visiting rookie to start in the Bronx on his birthday since Jason Hammel defeated Andy Pettitte on Sept. 2, 2007. Montgomery got a no-decision against Tampa Bay in his major league debut on April 12.
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