Tampa Bay entered their weekend series against New York with the opportunity to reclaim first place in the American League East. On Friday, one swing of the bat put the Rays closer to their goal.
Matt Joyce’s two out, two-run home run erased a 2-0 deficit en route to the Rays 3-2 win Friday at Tropicana Field.
Tampa Bay matched a season-high with their seventh straight win, and moved within one game of the first place Yankees. New York dropped to 4-5 this season against the Rays.
John Jaso singled to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning. With runners at second and third and two outs, Joyce faced a 2-2 count from Yankees starter Phil Hughes. Joyce eventually won the battle with a three-run home run over the right field wall for a 3-2 Tampa Bay lead. It was his fourth home run in July after not homering over the first three months of the season.
New York opened the scoring in the top of the first. Derek Jeter led off with a single and scored on Nick Swisher’s two-run home run over the right field wall. However, Tampa Bay starter Wade Davis shut down the Yankees offense and did not allow another hit until Robinson Cano’s sixth inning single.
Davis (9-9) won his fourth consecutive start after going winless in his previous six. He limited New York to two runs on four hits over seven innings with six strikeouts and three walks. Rafael Soriano pitched a perfect ninth for his 29th save.
Hughes (12-4) made his first start against Tampa Bay since earning a victory in a 3-1 Yankees win on Sept. 27, 2007. He suffered the loss after allowing three runs on four hits over six innings with six strikeouts and two walks. Joyce’s home run was the first round-tripper Hughes has allowed on the road this season.
New York and Tampa Bay will continue their weekend series on Saturday. Javier Vazquez (9-7, 4.54) will start for the Yankees, while the Rays will counter with Matt Garza (11-5, 4.06). It will be Garza’s first start since his no-hitter on Tuesday. First pitch is set for 7:10 ET.